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By Nicoleta Radoi
For example, climate and topography affect what can be grown easily, the presence of other cultures (such as through historic foreign colonization of an area) can bring outside influences, and the economic state of a country can determine how much money people have to spend on food.
Ghana is the perfect example of a place where all of these factors come together to affect the national cuisine, making it a brilliant place for any food-lover to expand their gustatory horizons.
There are a few dishes that most visitors will try, or at least encounter, such as Jeloff Rice and Fufu. However these are only the tip of the iceberg, and there are many more tasty surprises that only the locals really know about, that are waiting for anyone willing to look hard enough.
Now, one important thing to take into account is that in Ghana, people often have a very different attitude to food to most people in the West. Interestingly, carrying a few extra pounds here is not really frowned upon. This means that food is not geared towards being as low in fat, sugar, salt and calories as possible and that dishes are generally more ‘hearty’ than you may be used to.
Don’t come to Ghana expecting to find lots of vegan health foods, and embrace the fact that you will be able to enjoy some new foods which, while they may not be the healthiest for eating everyday long-term, are nonetheless delicious.
The explanation for the different attitude is simple. Ghana has a developing economy, meaning food is a luxury for many. High-calorie foods are regularly favored as they offer the best value for money (and can taste great). Also, being a bit chubbier than average indicates that you have lots of money so it can be somewhat enviable.
While these attitudes have resulted in some hugely satisfying foods, they also reflect the sad fact that many Ghanaians still live in poverty. Anyone visiting this beautiful country should always remember this and consider helping to give something back, for example by becoming a volunteer in Ghana.
Anyway, back to the food, here are 3 of the best Ghanaian snacks that most tourists to Ghana miss out on.
This dish may sound a bit basic, but trust me, it’s one of the most satisfying elements of Ghanaian food.
The starchy, energy-filled yams (a vegetable akin to the sweet potato) are deep fried and served up either as a snack, a side or even as a main meal.
Depending on where you get it from, the dish will come with different sauces, seasonings, and sides. Tomatoes are commonly served up alongside the yams with a spicy chili sauce. However, no two versions are exactly the same so try a few.
You can pick up a portion very cheaply almost anywhere in Ghana, and it is a staple food for lots of people in the country, as well as the rest of the African continent.
Kelewele follows the theme of being simple and cheap, while still being tasty and satisfying.
The dish is, in essence, chopped up plantain pieces that are deep fried. Plantains are very similar to bananas but have a lower sugar content so aren’t quite as appetizing when eaten raw. Cooking them, however, alters the flavor and makes them an excellent snack.
To complement and enhance the flavor further, a range of spices and seasoning are commonly added to kelewele. These might be hot chili (another Ghanaian favorite), salt, ginger, and many others.
As with the fried yams, people enjoy kelewele alone, as a snack or as the carbohydrate component of a larger meal.
The previous 2 examples of Ghanaian foods have been on the savory end of the scale, but Bofroat is most often eaten as a sweet treat or dessert.
The best way of describing Bofroat is that they are very much like donuts. As you can probably imagine, this means they are made of a batter that is broken into manageable pieces and – you guessed it – deep fried.
They make the perfect bite-sized snack, but may also be eaten as an element of a more complex dessert dish.
Make sure you search out these unique and moreish snacks on your next trip to Ghana
This list of snacks gives an idea of the types of food you can expect to find in Ghana and illustrates the attitudes to food that the local people have.
Don’t think that this is by any means an exhaustive list, though. Visit Ghana and do some exploring for yourself to find more examples of authentic local cuisine.
About the author:
Nicoleta is the resident content blogger for uVolunteer. Nicoleta is an avid linguist, speaks fluent English, Chinese, French, Spanish and native Romanian. She spent a decade working in China in the education sector and working with major international development institutions and currently lives in Vancouver, Canada. She is passionate about volunteering, sustainable travel and has a soft spot for ethnic food.