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The typical Ghanaian staple foods in the southern part of Ghana include cassava and plantain. In the northern part, the main staple foods include millet and sorghum. Yam, maize and beans are used across Ghana as staple foods. Sweet potatoes and cocoyam are also important in the Ghanaian diet and cuisine. With the advent of globalization, crops such as rice and wheat have been increasingly incorporated into Ghanaian cuisine. The foods below represent Ghanaian dishes made out of these staple foods.
Some of the main starchy dishes are:
Alternatives to the starch and stew combination are "Red Red" and "tubaani" or moimoi which are based primarily on vegetable protein (beans). "Red Red" is a popular Ghanaian bean stew served with fried ripe plantain and often accompanied with gari and avocado. It earns its name from the palm oil that tints the stew and the bright orange color of the fried plantain.
Most Ghanaian dishes are served with a stew, soup or a spicy condiment made from raw red and green chilies, onions and tomatoes (pepper sauce). Ghanaian stews and soups are quite sophisticated with liberal and delicate use of exotic ingredients, a wide variety of flavors, spices and textures.
Vegetables such as palm nuts, peanuts, cocoyam leaves, ayoyo, spinach, wild mushroom, okra, garden eggs (eggplant), tomatoes and various types of pulses are the main ingredients in Ghanaian soups and stews and in the case of pulses, may double as the main protein ingredient.
Beef, pork, goat, sheep, chicken, and fish are common sources of protein in Ghanaian soups and stews sometimes mixing different types of meat into one soup. It is also common to find more exotic meat and sea food in Ghanaian soups and stews.
Meat, mushrooms and seafood may be smoked, salted or dried for flavor enhancement and preservation. Spices such as thyme, garlic, onions, ginger, peppers, curry, basil, nutmeg and bay leaf are delicately used to achieve the spicy taste that often characterizes Ghanaian cuisine.
Palm oil, coconut oil, shea butter, palm kernel oil and peanut oil are important Ghanaian oils used for cooking or frying and may sometime not be substituted in certain Ghanaian dishes. For example, using palm oil in okro stew, eto, fante fante, red red, egusi stew and mpihu/mpotompoto (similar to Poi). Coconut oil, palm kernel oil and shea butter have lost their popularity for cooking in Ghana due to the introduction of refined oils and negative Ghanaian media adverts targeted at those oils. They are now mostly used in few traditional homes, for soap making and by commercial (street food) food vendors as a cheaper substitute to refined cooking oils.
Most of the dishes mentioned above are served during lunch and supper in modern Ghana. However, those engaged in manual labour and a large number of urban dwellers still eat these foods for breakfast and will usually buy them from the streets.
In large Ghanaian cities, working-class people would often take fruits, tea, chocolate drink, oats, rice porridge (locally called rice water) or kooko (fermented maize porridge) and koose/akara or maasa (rice, banana and maize meal fritters). Other breakfast foods include grits, tombrown (roasted maize porridge), and millet porridge.
Bread is an important feature in Ghanaian breakfast and baked foods. Ghanaian bread which is known for its good quality is baked with wheat flour and sometimes cassava flour is added for an improved texture. There are four types of bread in Ghana. They are tea bread (similar to the baguette), sugar bread (which is a sweet bread), brown (whole wheat) bread, and butter bread.
There are many savory local foods which have been marginalized due to their low demand and long preparation process. Ghanaian savory foods (or confectionary) may be fried, barbecued, boiled, roasted, baked or steamed.
Fried savoury foods include cubed and spiced ripe plantain (kelewele) sometimes served with peanuts. Koose (also called Acarajé or akara), maasa, pinkaaso, and bofrot (made from wheat flour); kuli-kuli, zowey and nkate cake (made from peanuts); krakro and tatale (ripe plantain fritters); kube cake and kube toffee (made from coconut); bankye krakro, gari biscuit, and krakye ayuosu (made from cassava); condensed milk, toffee, plantain chips (or fried plantain) and wagashi (fried farmer's cheese) are fried Ghanaian savory foods (confectionary).
Steamed fresh maize, Yakeyake, Kafa, Akyeke, tubani/moimoi (bean cake), emo dokonu (rice cake) and esikyire dokonu (sweetened kenkey) are all examples of steamed and boiled foods whilst sweet bread, (plantain cake), and meat pie similar to Jamaican patties and empanadas are baked savoury foods. Aprapransa, eto (mashed yam) and atadwe milk (tiger nut juice) are other savory foods. Gari soakings is a modern favorite. It is a blend of gari (dried, roasted cassava), sugar, groundnut (peanut) and milk.
In south Ghana, Ghanaian drinks such as asaana (made from fermented maize) are common. Along the Ghanaian Lake Volta and south Ghana, palm wine extracted from the palm tree can be found, but it spoils quickly. In addition, a beverage can be made from kenkey and refrigerated into what is in Ghana known as iced kenkey. Along north Ghana, bisaab/sorrel, toose and lamujee (a spicy sweetened drink) are common non-alcoholic beverages whereas pitoo (a local gin made of fermented millet) is an alcoholic beverage.
In urban areas of Ghana drinks may include fruit juice, drinks, cocoa drinks, fresh coconuts, yogurt, ice cream, carbonated drinks, malt drinks and soy milk. In addition, Ghanaian distilleries produce alcoholic beverages from cocoa, malt, sugar cane, local medicinal herbs and tree barks. They include bitters, liqueur, dry gins, beer, and aperitifs.
Street foods are very popular in Ghana both in the rural and urban areas. Most Ghanaian families eat at least three times in a week from a street food vendor. Almost all kind of foods can be bought from the street vendor. Most of the foods sold are almost never prepared at home. Some of these foods includes, staple foods such as kenkey, tubaani and waakye. Other savoury foods such as kebab, boiled corn cob, bofrot and roasted plantain are sold mainly by street food vendors.
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