In Ghana food is an important part of the culture, and definitely something worth exploring when living and studying in Ghana. Everywhere you travel huge commercial sign is put along the road. Showing happy people eating home cooked Ghanaian food, and I’m pretty sure 90% of the sign is about tomato paste. Yes, you read right, tomato paste. So much of the delicious Ghanaian cousin is made with a tomato-based base. In this post I will introduce you, the reader, to some of the dishes and how they’re made, and my personal recommendations of places to get them. I will write also some of the vegan options they offer.
By far my favorite dish of all in Ghana is jollof rice. Commonly served with chicken, boiled egg and a dark tomato-based sauce. This dish you can get almost everywhere you go, but by far my favorite place to eat jollof is on campus. Just walk from the lecture hall and past the taxi stand. Here you’ll find a market with small kiosks that sells jollof and to a very affordable price. There is no place to sit down to eat it so you’ll get it in a takeaway box.
Jollof rice takes time to make, but it is well worth the time. First tomatoes are cut and the tripe is removed, then onions are chopped. This is put into a blender together with green peppers and water. This is the base which most of the food is made in. Pour the base from the blender in to a casserole. And add tomato-paste (quite a lot too) and let it boil while stirring. When its boiling add the rice to the boiling base and let it boil. The rice soaks up the tomato base and turns red and with all the delicious flavors. It is finished when all the moisture is gone from the casserole and you’re left with only the rice. It is important to stir regularly so the rice don’t burn in the bottom.
The vegan option is to add grilled fresh vegetables instead of the chicken. My favorite is grilled zucchinis and potatoes. It’s absolutely wonderful.
FUFU AND SOUP
When in Ghana you will be asked if you have tried fufu. And you should. Fufu in Ghana is like bread for Europeans, an important part of the meal. Fufu is served in a soup of your choice. If you travel to Accra, make sure to stop by my favorite fufu place. The entrance is left to Duncan’s bar. This is the place to eat fufu in Accra all the locals stop by to eat their lunches here. I would recommend fufu with the spicy soup and lamb meat.
Fufu, like the jollof rice takes time to make. And the process is absolutely fascinating. It’s made by cassava and plantain flour and water. It is put in a bowl made of tree and a long wooden stick which is used to pound the mix. For every pound the mix is turned in between the pounds. It happens so rhythmically, it’s almost like a dance between the person who is pounding and the person who is turning. To make the perfect jollof this process takes hours. They start early in the morning and are finished in time for lunch around 11-12. The consistency is a doughty sticky ball. This is the fufu.
The soups are a matter of taste, as mentioned above, my favorite is the spicy soup, but the groundnut soup is also worth your time. It’s a bit more filling but can be a little bit much for my taste. For people who want the vegan options; the soup is great without the meat and is made of fresh ingredients.
This dish you will come to know as it is served every Tuesday and Thursday at the campus cafeteria, you’ll eat your lunch after lectures. Red-Red is a 100% vegetarian dish. Made with blacked eyed beans, tomato sauce and fried plantain.
It is made with the same base as jollof rice. Blend water, tomato (without the tripe), onion and pepper, add it to a casserole and add the tomato paste. Add the beans and let them cook together until the beans are finished. This depends on how long they have been soaked before starting to cook. Right before serving times cut and fry plantains and voila.
This is no dish, but an excellent beverage. Sobolo, or as it sometimes is referred to “Hibiscus Iced Tea” is perfect for warm days under the sun. It is made from cooked hibiscus, lemons, sugar and water. It is then refrigerated and served cold. The perfect beverage for a student doing fieldwork with low blood sugar. My favorite sobolo is made by the host family I lived with in Accra during my field work. She sells them to a very low price and I recommend to stock up and have in a refrigerator to drink when you’re finished with the daily activities.
I sincerely hope you found this insightful. The Ghanaian kitchen is much larger than the three different dishes I have written about, but I hope you find the Ghanaian kitchen as delightful as I did, and that you enjoy every meal.
I also hope that you’ll excuse my pictures and trust the dishes when you order them in real life.