Exotic Eats: Ghana

Posted by on Jul 11, 2013 in Exotic Eats, Ghana | 1 comment

I probably should not judge all of Ghanaian cuisine by the food we were served at the orphanage but, since that is where I ate the majority of my meals, I have no choice.  To be fair, in my reading about traditional Ghanaian cuisine, there is talk of sophisticated dishes and complex taste profiles.  Yet, I found the food to be quite monotonous.  For as much as I loved my experience touring Ghana and working at the Royal Seed Home, the food was certainly not a highlight for me.  

Each meal typically consists of a heavy starch paired with a red sauce/stew.  In some of the major cities or fancier restaurants, I think that fish (especially tilapia) is prevalent, but we rarely had it (and when we did, it was mainly used to flavor the sauces). I have described a few local dishes below that we had frequently during our week in Ghana.

Kooko (rice porridge):  
We were served rice porridge several mornings for breakfast.  At first, I was excited because it looked like oatmeal and I eat oatmeal for breakfast every morning at home.  Unfortunately, it didn’t taste the same.  While Mike found a way to enjoy kooko (he would add crumbled sweet biscuits), I thought the watery, strangely sweet, rice mush was tough to handle.  It reminded me of the “rice water” that we fed the children each morning and I simply could not enjoy it. (Not worth a picture).

Jollof Rice:  
I think we ate this dish every day in some capacity.  It is plain rice that, when mixed with a red sauce, has an orangey appearance.  The sauce contains tomatoes and tomato paste, onion, salt, spices and chili pepper. It tasted to me more like a condiment (African ketchup) than a sauce or stew but I was able to enjoy it on most days (it just got a little old by the end).  But, I can attest that the locals LOVE it.

lJollof Rice with red sauce

Jollof Rice with red sauce

This is cooked, fermented corn dough formed into the most dense ball of carbs you could ever imagine. Again, this dish is served with a red sauce (surprise, surprise) and adored by locals.  But for me, it was so concentrated that I could only manage a few bites per sitting.



Even though Ghanaian food is not at the top of my list, I learned a lot about the country and its people by sampling the local dishes.  The staple starches (corn and rice) are focuses of every meal because of affordability and prevalence.  Most dishes are calorie dense to ensure that the hard working majority have energy.  And the red sauce, while redundant to me, added flavor for the locals.  

One Comment

  1. Sounds pretty rough. But whaddya Ghana do…

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