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Ghanaian Cuisine

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Ghanaian - Cooking and Food Edit

Overview of Ghanaian Cuisine HistoryEdit

The Ghanaian cuisine is very much influenced by the natural possessions and surroundings of Ghana and by the local climate of the country. Ghana is situated on the West coast of Central Africa and its relief is mainly a wide field and a high plateau. The existence of many rivers and lakes, the tropical, warm and rainy weather, lead to a great evolution of the agriculture. Ghana is a country covered in plantations and it is the third global producer of cocoa. Also, the coconut trees, coffee and various fruit plantations are very often. Besides these, fishing is a main activity in Ghana and that is why so many meals are based on fish: from soups, to snacks and main courses. All the local plants and fruit are highly used as bases for the main foods. The fruits, such as: bananas, avocados, grapefruits, mangos, papayas, coconut and plantains are not only used for sweet meals, but also as the main course, besides the traditional stew. Bananas used both for the leaves and for the inner fruit in most of the Ghanaian desserts. The most important local vegetables: cassava (with edible roots), Eggplant, maize, okra, locally called ngumbo, chile pepper, sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, turnip, yam (it has edible tubers) are bases for fufu, locally known as foofoo, the most significant Ghanaian meal.

Cuisines of Ghana Edit

Map of Ghana

Map of Ghana - Click to enlarge

There are many regions with specific foods: the western region, Accra, Ashanti, Central region, Volta, Brong Ahafu, Northern region, Upper East region and Upper West region. In Accra, the fried fish is the favorite meal, together with okro, Groundnut soup, beans stew (made from black eye peas) or vo-ko-gari, tattale and rice balls also known as omotuo. In the West, avocado is very common, snails, light mushroom soups and akyeke. In the Upper West region, the rice ball is also famous, like in Accra, the tuo zaafi, Groundnut soup and green leaves soup, the koose and the pito. In the centre of the country, the main dishes include the kenke with fish and gravy, palm nut soup, jollof rice, fante fante with palm oil and fresh fish, mashed yam and coconut juice. In Ashanti, the light soup is again popular, the akrantee meat, the green green snails and again, the palm nut soup, the plantain under all its forms, the yam and the cocoyam. In Volta, the akpe with okro soup is often eaten, the okro and the abolo with shrimps, the red red beans and again, the plantain. Brong Ahafu is famous for its nkotomire soup, cocoyam ampesi and palm wine and the Northern region is best represented by the tuo zafi, omo tuo with green soup, beans and tubaani pepper. In the Upper East, the rice balls are a custom meal, the koko and the koose. Besides all these, the fufu or the foofoo is a meal found in all regions and considered the most traditional Ghanaian recipe.

Preparation Methods for Ghanaian Cooking Edit

Ghanaian cooking is not too complicated, if all the ingredients are available. The local fruits and vegetables (Groundnut, yam and plantain) might be harder to find in places where there aren’t such plantations. Some parts of the fruits are sometimes used for wrapping the aliments, like the banana leaves, which protect the aliments from getting burned. Also, there is the need of acquiring different spices, but the usual nutmeg is the most frequent one. For the fufu, the most important traditional meal, similar to a puree, wide bowls and mashing and pounding equipment is necessary. The cooking time varies, but the traditional cooking for celebrations and festivals takes longer, as real feasts take place. Besides cooking, ornamenting and decorating the eating room and the entire house with colored creped paper is a must, as the Ghanaian people like to be joyful and happy while having dinner or celebrating any religious or non religious event.

Special Equipment for Ghanaian Cooking Edit

The way the food is presented is very important for the Ghanaian people. The decor and the atmosphere must be highly joyful, especially on special occasions and celebrations. That is why, the families decorate the houses very brightly during festivals or family feasts. The ornaments used for these are the paper ones in bright colors and the crepe paper is also used for institutions and churches. The Ghanaian people are very much interested in various crafts, like ceramics, metallurgy, wood carving and pottery making, which are a female activity. Some of the crafts are restricted to men: the men are the only ones allowed to ornament pots or pipes with figures, animals and other elements. These crafts were the main occupations of the Ashanti tribe, now the most important tribe witching Ghana. Because the wood craft is so developed, the pots and bowls are often made of wood. Ceramic items are also used and the dimensions of the dishes are generally large. The cutlery is rather missing from the Ghanaian culture. The food is eaten with the hand and only wooden spoons are used to mix the meals. These are a wide range of ornamental plates with many animal figures, but these are just used as decor and not for serving the food.

Ghanaian Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

There are many festivals and celebrations in Ghana, with many rituals and rites but the most important ones are the Homowo Festival and the Panafest. During Panfest, which is kept in the hot summer, the Ghanaian roots are celebrated and the cultural heritage is cherished. The Homowo Festival literally means making fun of hunger. The tradition talks about a time when because of the lack of water, there was a strong famine in this region, where the Ga people were leaving. When the hunger was over and the rain came back again, people were so happy, that they started a festival where they made fun of their pain. The festival ends with the Ga New Year. The Ghanaian Christmas is called Bronya and the cooking processes for this religious holiday takes longer than usual: rice and goat or Chicken stew are eaten after the annual Christmas service on Christmas Day, rice, goat, Lamb and various fruits are consumed. Other festivals are the Aboakyer, celebrated in the central region, the Dodoleglime, which marks the escape of the people from the tyrannical rule of Togbe Agorkoli in the 17th century, the Apo, Bakatue, Gologo, Kundum and the Saamanpiid which is celebrated to thank the spirits for a good farming season.

In the region of Accra people eat yam with Turkey tail, also named chofi; this meal is flavored with spicy ground pepper and served with beverages like the coconut juice, akpeteshie liquor and palm wine.

People in Ghanaian Food Edit

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Because so many fruits and vegetables grow in the country, people are familiar to them and know how to use them best. Thanks to the cocoa tree, which grows a lot in the Ghanaian space, there are chefs which have practice to prepare a delicious chocolate. Ghanaian people are recognized as one of the friendliest people in Africa and the relation they have with the rest is very important. Food is a way of expressing themselves and the relation with the others. All Ghanaian people are cooks, as food is a familiar and hospitable way of being friendly, even to strangers or tourists. There is food on the streets, as anybody is selling various meals and aliments in stands or just in wide bowls, from which they serve the customers.

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