Culture Tuesday is a weekly column in which Best of Vegan Editor Samantha Onyemenam explores different cultures’ cuisines across the globe through a plant-based and vegan lens. Before you start exploring vegan Ghanaian recipes, you might want to click here to read her original column about Ghanaian cuisine.
This is a complementary piece to my article on Ghanaian cuisine. This article is a compilation of 10 flavourful dishes from Ghana. Some of the recipes are popularly known in the diaspora. However, others are lesser known outside West African communities. Although some other West African countries have the same, or very similar, cultural dishes, Ghanaians have their cooking methods and ingredients which give their cultural versions of the dishes a flavor, or texture, that could be noticeably different from that of neighboring countries. Either way, these vegan Ghanaian recipes are easy to follow, mostly made from a range of fresh and very nutritious ingredients, and following them will always result in a wonderful taste experience!
Do let the developers of each recipe know what you think if you try their dishes.
Culture Tuesday – 10 Flavourful Vegan Ghanaian Recipes
Kontomire stew, or palava stew, is a dish consisting predominantly of cocoyam leaves (taro leaves), egusi (the ground seeds of a specific type of melon), and tomatoes. It is often served with fried plantains, yam and/or rice, or another suitable grain.
In this recipe, Afia (@thecanadianvegan on Instagram) shows how to make a vegan kontomire stew with substitutes specified for cocoyam leaves.
Shito sauce is a dark flavourful Ghanaian hot sauce consisting of ginger, onions, garlic, scotch bonnet chili peppers, tomato paste, a range of aromatic spices and oil. Traditionally, it is not vegan as seafood is often used in its recipe. However, Afia has developed a vegan recipe for it in which taste is not compromised.
Red Red is a flavor-packed bean stew that gets its color and name from the tomatoes and red palm oil used to make it. In this recipe, Afia uses vegetable oil to make Red Red more accessible to people that might not be able to find West African, or other sustainably sourced palm oil.
As mentioned in my previous articles on both Ghanaian and Nigerian cuisines, it should be noted that West African palm oil does not contribute to the environmental damage and animal deaths that a significant amount of the palm oil from other continents does. It also has a flavor that is noticeably different to that of the palm oil in other countries. For more information on palm oil in West African cuisine, please read Afia’s article titled, ‘Don’t Ask West Africans to Stop Cooking With Palm Oil.’
Koose, also known as ‘akara,’ is a fried bean cake or bean fritter, that is traditionally made by blending soaked and peeled black-eyed beans (cowpeas or honey beans) with onions, ginger, scotch bonnet (or habanero) chillies, salt, and just enough water to blend the ingredients into a thick batter. The batter is then fried in vegetable oil to make koose. It is often served with Koko, an aromatic spiced miller porridge. However, Freda (@myburntorange on Instagram) only includes her koose recipe in the link below.
In this recipe, Michael and Maša (@theminimalistvegan on Instagram) share their vegan version of the Ghanaian Spinach Stew Michael’s father and sister often made for their family. It consists of spinach, aromatic vegetables, spices, tomatoes, and chickpeas (the protein replacement of choice).
Jollof Rice is one of the most popular West African dishes which is also at the center of a fun long-term debate amongst Nigerians and Ghanaians concerning who makes it better. Despite the close similarities in the appearance of both countries’ Jollof, their recipes are significantly different. Ghanaian Jollof is made using a fragrant Jasmine rice, a tomato base (consisting of chopped, blended, and thick puréed tomatoes), aromatic vegetables, and a range of herbs and spices.
With this recipe, Amma (@inammaskitchen on Instagram) shows you how to make a vegan-friendly Ghanaian Jollof rice perfect for lunch, dinner, or an event.
Kelewele is a spiced fried plantain dish. To make it, ripe plantains are cut into cubes and marinated in a flavourful mixture of onions, chili peppers, ginger, and salt prior to being deep-fried. The resulting dish is a beautiful sweet and savory medley with the sweetness coming from the ripe plantains and the savouriness from the marinade it was mixed in.
Dzowoe, also known as ‘Zowey,’ and ‘Adarkwa,’ are sweet and spicy peanut balls made using a combination of thick peanut butter (groundnut/peanut paste), sugar, salt, ginger, chili powder, and maize/cornmeal. In this recipe, Fafa (@ndudu_by_fafa on Instagram) also includes cloves which give the dzowoe a deeper and more aromatic flavor.
Groundnut soup, also known as, ‘nkatie kwan,’ or ‘peanut soup,’ is another popular West African dish that also forms part of Ghanaian cuisine. Although a number of African nations have the groundnut soup dish, some of the differences between them and the Ghanaian groundnut soup is the use of tomatoes, a range of specific spices, and the somewhat optional inclusion of okra in the dish.
In this recipe, Afia uses mushrooms and firm tofu to replace the meat in the conventional Ghanaian groundnut soup recipe as well as dawadawa (fermented locust beans) to impart a more noticeable umami flavor into the dish.
Togbeii, or dry bofrot, is a deep-fried snack dish. The difference between the more common bofrot and togbeii lies in the consistency of the mixture of ingredients prior to frying. Bofrot is made by frying a thick wet yeast-leavened batter while togbeii is made by frying a kneaded and yeast-leavened dough. Togbeii is often larger than bofrot. It is slightly sweet and also often has a nutmeg and/or pineapple flavor.