World's most marvellous markets
3rd December 2019
The thrumming, sun-splashed country of Ghana sits on the West African coast, deserving its moniker as the ‘golden child of Africa’. Scattered with time-worn castles, ocean-lapped shores and ever-smiling inhabitants who love to get up and dance, it’s often cited as the perfect ‘starter’ destination for those wanting to embrace the African continent.
Of course, no new cultural experience is complete without getting to know its culinary offering; and the tantalising food of Ghana - growing ever-popular overseas - does not disappoint. Fill your boots with Ghanaian favourites when scouring this irresistible country - you’ll find the depth and flavour of the local cuisine as vivacious as the people that live there.
As you’d expect, the trademark taste of Ghanaian stews and sauces come from their most prominent local crops; tomatoes, yams, peppers, aubergines (known as garden eggs), chillies, peanuts and beans. A smart fusion of these ingredients results in sophisticated, delicately-balanced flavours which really pack a punch. Maize, cassava, plantain and rice make up the ever-present starch portion of a meal; while for protein, seafood such as tilapia, crayfish, crab and even barracuda is sourced fresh and often barbecued whole. Fried chicken, pork, beef, lamb and goat are also common for that meaty, umami taste.
Eating street-side is a Ghanaian way of life, with many families picking up a delicious hot plate from a local stall a few times a week. Follow your nose and head to the street markets - or the local restaurants, called chop houses - to experiment with what’s on offer. As is custom in many cultures, eating with your right hand is traditional in order to tear off dough or ‘ball’ rice for mopping up leftover sauce - but no one will object if you reach for a fork and spoon.
Ghana’s food is pleasingly diverse - whether you’re in Accra or a coastal village; perusing street markets or scoping the increasing choice of top eateries, there will be regional emphasis on different ingredients. Starchy staples such as rice, fu-fu (plantain and cassava pounded into dough balls), kenkey (fermented maize dumplings) and banku (corn and cassava dough balls) are served with all kinds of exotic soups and stews, and are generally interchangeable.
Traditionally speaking, however, there are some dishes that are consistently on the Ghanaian menu...
Kelewele (pictured above) - a plate of chopped plantain fried in ginger, pepper and garlic, kelewele is a favourite after-hours street snack. The punch of the coating combined with the sweetness of the plantain is sheer satisfaction on the palate.
Red-red (pictured below) - this tomato stew consists of spicy black-eyed peas, cooked for as long as possible to ensure a deeply delicious flavour. It’s a great, sumptuous option for travelling vegetarians, especially when ordered with a side of fried plantain.
Waakye - commonly seen at breakfast or lunch, waakye (pronounced wa-chi) is vastly similar to Caribbean rice and peas, yet is often accompanied by sides of spaghetti, stew, a hard-boiled egg and fried chicken or fish.
Tilapia with banku (pictured above) - the most eaten fish in the country, river-sourced tilapia is rolled in local spices then grilled until the skin is crispy. It’s served whole with a couple of banku, onions, peppers and a very spicy tomato-pepper sauce. A hearty Ghanaian classic.
Jollof rice (pictured below) - this orange-hued, tangy rice dish is often served on its own, if not alongside soup, fried chicken or barbecued fish with a handful of salad. This widespread West African staple is very much present in Ghana; just don’t argue about its origins as it’s a topic of much debate!
Chichinga - the billowing barbecue is a permanent fixture of multiple street stalls in Ghana, often graced with tilapia and a handful of chichingas. Essentially a Ghanaian shish-kebab, the skewers can hold anything from chicken, beef, goat or fish; often coated in a spice mixture of garlic, groundnut, ginger and chilli.
Groundnut soup with plantain (pictured above) - much as it sounds, this popular soup dish is made of ground peanuts and has an unmistakable peanut butter taste. It can also include chicken or fish, and is served with fu-fu or fried plantain on the side for dipping.
Make it happen
If you want to experience the adventurous flavours of Ghana as well as the smiles, sunshine and infinite music of the West African coast, then enquire today and let our local experts craft your bespoke Ghanaian trip. For more inspiration don't forget to check out our Ultimate Guide to Ghana, and if you'd like speak to someone in the TravelLocal office then please call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.