This is part of the ongoing Das Tor series “Global Eats,” in which T-birds share cooking stories and recipes unique to their culture or travels around the globe.
Waakye, beans and rice with a reddish-brown color, is a staple Ghanaian dish. It’s commonly accompanied by shito, the Ghanaian name for black hot pepper sauce or gravy in which any protein of your choice – egg, fish, meat, chicken, among others – can be found. Spaghetti is added as well as gari, a West African edible white granular flour. A snacky addition can be made in the form of kelewele, when fried plantain is added, along with pear. When bought, most Ghanaians like it served in katemfe, or “miracle plant,” leaves, as the aroma of the leaves offers great pleasure to the eater.
The majority of Ghanaians prefer eating waakye as breakfast on a hot Saturday or Sunday morning, while others like it as lunch and others as dinner! It is not a surprising scene to see a long queue of workers, students, adults, or children buying waakye from a popular waakye joint. It is so beloved that Ghanaians travel from afar to have a taste of a hyped waakye vendor. The most irritating thing is to stand in the queue for close to an hour only to have the buyer in front of you buying for their entire family!
Waakye is a highly nutritious meal with a lot of color, as each accompaniment enhances the beauty of the other. As such, harmony and balance are achieved, with a pleasing effect to the eye. To make this beautiful and delicious dish, let’s get started.
- 1 liter of boiling water
- 225 – 250g dried black-eyed beans or red kidney beans
- 400g of medium or long grain brown rice
- 2 – 3 dried waakye leaves (millet or sorghum bicolor leaves)
- Sea salt
- Sunflower oil
- Blended dry herring
- 2 – 3 diced onions
- 3 – 5 finely sliced chili peppers
- 2 – 3 blended fresh tomatoes
- 1 blended garlic clove
- 1 inch of blended minced ginger
- Grounded pepper
- 1 pack of spaghetti
- Protein – egg, meat and/or fish
Step one: Waakye preparation.
- Thoroughly rinse the beans and soak them in the water for about 10 minutes to soften.
- Put a large pan filled with water on the stove and add the already washed and soaked beans to it. Leave it to boil until the beans are soft enough to squeeze between your fingers.
- When done, drain the beans and place in a covered bowl.
- Put another pan on the stove and pour a couple tablespoons of oil into the pan. When hot, drop a handful of the diced onions into the oil. Stir and sauté over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Add rice, boiled beans, and a teaspoon of salt into the pan. Stir and leave to fry.
- Cut the long waakye leaves into large pieces that fit inside the pan. Wash the leaves quickly to avoid the loss of color from the leaves.
- Put the leaves in the pan with the rice and beans.
- After 5 minutes, pour water into the pan.
- Leave the pan on the stove and simmer tightly covered for 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and leave covered until you are ready to eat.
Step two: Shito gravy preparation.
- Put a clean, dry pan on the stove and pour 4 teaspoons of sunflower oil into it.
- When hot, add the blended dry herring and cook until fragrant.
- During the frying process, drop the remaining diced onions into the pan with the sliced chili pepper.
- Leave to fry for 3 to 5 minutes on medium heat.
- Next, pour in the blended tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and ground pepper. Leave to boil for close to 10 minutes.
- Open the pan, stir, and add half a cup of warm water to prevent from burning.
- Add a teaspoon of salt and any spice of your choice (this is to your discretion). Add additional salt to taste as needed.
- Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Lower heat and simmer under low heat until ready to use.
Step 3: Accompaniment.
- Put a covered pan partially filled with water on the stove with salt added. Bring to a boil.
- Add spaghetti when water starts to boil.
- Remove from fire when spaghetti is cooked. Drain any excess water.
- Put a pan half filled with water on the stove with eggs in it.
- Boil until hard and remove from heat. Run under cold water.
- Peel and leave until ready to serve.
- Remove waakye and shito gravy from the heat.
- Serve in a dish with the accompanying egg, spaghetti, and optional gari on the side.
- And voila!!!! Enjoy.
A video guide to waakye preparation can be found here. While there are many ways of preparing it, this best applies. Enjoy!