I admit it… I actually like some dishes here.
For the first two years I was here, I was pretty adamant that all Ghanaian food pretty much tasted the same. “Something sitting in a pool of reddish orange oil and a white starch on the side,” was how I described the dishes here. (Palm oil is reddish and makes all the dishes the same color.)
Even at the start, I could not claim I did not like ANY Ghanaian dishes. I always enjoyed red red which is black-eyed peas cooked in palm oil along with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and red pepper served with kelewele. Kelewele is ripe plaintains fried in palm oil with ginger, cayenne pepper, and salt. But seriously, who doesn’t like fried bananas?
Over the past month, circumstances have compelled me to eat Ghanaian food. Frankly, it’s not horrible. I probably can eat it twice a week if I had to.
I discovered I like spinach stew and boiled yams. Though it doesn’t look that appetizing, the spinach stew is cooked with tomatoes, onions, and pepper in palm oil. By the way, Ghanaians prefer their dishes with a heavy dose of salt.
I also like anything they grill. Ghanaians use a magical combination of spices to make chicken, goat, tilapia, and guinea fowl taste spectacular.
In some ways, it’s like Korean food.
- Do you like BBQ?
- Do you like a mish mash of ingredients cooked over a flame for hours at a time?
- Do you like fermented and pickled foods?
Well, then maybe you should try Ghanaian food.
Unlike Korean food, however, Ghanaian food prompts more questions on how you like to eat your food:
- Do you like eating with your hands, e.g. like Indian food?
- Do you like to share a single dish with your three best friends or three strangers while everyone eats with their hands? They think Asians are strange for eating with sticks. At least the sticks are clean!
- Do you like slimy food? Then, you’ll like okro stew.
Typical Ghanaian Meal
1) Choose a stew:
- Okro stew (pictured above)
- Spinach stew (pictured above)
- Light soup
- Kontomire stew
- Groundnut soup (tastes like peanut soup or diuted peanut butter)
2) Choose a starch:
- Cooked rice
- Waakye (pronounced “wa che”) – rice and beans
- Fufu – pounded cassava and plantain or pounded yam and plantain, or pounded cocoyam
- Kenkey (pronounced “ken-K”) – fermented corn and cassava dough, wrapped in corn or banana leaves and cooked into a consistent solid paste (Please swallow)
- Boiled yams – these yams have no flavor. Do not think of sweet potatoes
- Banku – cooked fermented corn dough and cassava dough (Please swallow)
From another blog:
Beware that if you do not swallow your banku quickly enough, the paste will form an impenetrable wall at the back of your throat and you will have a mini choking fit in front of your colleagues at the lunch table. It is a similar experience to when you are over-ambitious with a spoonful of peanut butter.