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How to cook African food

Updated on October 8, 2011

The gathering place

This Ghanaian seafood stew was prepared by a close friend. It was fabulous! Ghanaian style cooking is in high demand. Many of the main dishes including Fufu, Kenkey, Joloff rice and the variety of stews are now being served in specialty restaurants. I am no expert in making this delicious food. Though I have tried many times but have not yet been able to consistently apply the recipes. I am very lucky to have close friends and family that invite me over to enjoy a meal. We also order the food for special occasions and it is always disappears quickly.

I wanted to get a better appreciation of the cooking so I've been doing a bit of research. I was surprised at how much high quality content is available on the internet. Hope you enjoy this aggregation of links on this website about Ghanaian related dishes as well as the options that are now available in how to you can prepare from scratch or have certain items delived to your home!

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How to make Shito

By Eunice Ekor

Here is the list of ingredients:

1 cup ground red chili pepper (cayenne)

3 cups vegetable oil*

2 cups ground dried shrimp**

2 cups ground smoked herring***

1 1/2 cups onion puree

2 medium-size tomatoes, pureed

1 cup tomato paste

salt to taste

1-2 cubes of Jumbo or Maggi seasoning, preferably shrimp flavor (this is optional!)

...and the instructions:

Be sure to use a pan with a heavy bottom, so the sauce won't burn.

Add oil to the pan and heat it. Add onion and tomato ingredients and fry the mixture for about 10 minutes, being careful not to burn it. Add the dry ingredients into the pan, stir well, and continue cooking it for an additional 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.

The finished sauce should be a rich dark reddish-brown color and have a thick texture, not at all runny. Some of the oil may separate out and that is fine. When cooled, put the sauce into a clean glass jar and cover. Make sure about half an inch of oil stays on the top, covering the paste. This sauce keeps indefinitely and does not need refrigeration.

Order Shito online


Efia is a native-born Ghanaian girl bringing the finest traditions of her home cuisine as well as the legendary Ghanaian hospitality to the United States. The idea to market her own Shito came after a weekend cooking with friends, where she'd only in...


Egusi Soup

Here is a fabulous soup recipe that uses crayfish for additional flavor and taste.

Egusi (melon seed) Soup (serves five to six)


3 pounds goat meat

1 cup dried crayfish

2 cups melon seed, ground

1 teaspoon dried red pepper, ground or crushed

2 tablespoons salt

1 medium onion, chopped

3 tablespoons red palm oil

Bitterleaf, chopped (optionally, spinach or kale)

7 cups water


Cut meat in small pieces and place in skillet combine with water, onion, salt and boil for 15 to 20 minutes Add ground melon seed and remaining ingredients, stirring as added cook for 10 more minutes, and serve.



Fufu Defined

Fufu (Foo-foo, Foufou, Foutou, fu fu) is to Western and Central Africa cooking what mashed potatoes are to traditional European-American cooking. There are Fufu-like staples all over Sub-Saharan Africa: i.e., Nigeria, Tuwo, Eastern Africa's Ugali and Southern Africa's Sadza (which are usually made from ground corn (maize), though West Africans use maize to make Banku and Kenkey, and sometimes use maize to make Fufu). Fufu is a starchy accompaniment for stews or other dishes with sauce.

In Western Africa, Fufu is usually made from yams, sometimes combined with plantains. In Central Africa, Fufu is often made from cassava tubers, like Baton de Manioc. Other fufu-like foods, Liberia's dumboy for example, are made from cassava flour. Fufu can also be made from semolina, rice, or even instant potato flakes or Bisquick. All over Africa, making fufu involves boiling, pounding, and vigorous stirring until the fufu is thick and smooth

Image credit:


Traditional approach to making Fufu - courtesty Dutchvlog

This is how Fufu is made using the original techniques in Ghana. Look at all that love that is being poured into just one serving of Fufu. Much appreciated! I also located other techniques to prepare Fufu including using the microwave and via the stove top. It seems that some folks have found a way to reduce the amount of labor associated with making Fufu. I am not sure whether the different techniques affect the flavor or not.


FufuMagic a revolutionary new food processor

Product Description

My, my, my. I never imagined my research would uncover a a Fufu food processor! Here is some information from the website for FufuMagic. FuFuMagic reduces the preparation of yam fufu, rice fufu, garri, etc. to just adding water to a bowl, flour to a dispenser and then pushing two buttons. You may even program FufuMagic to cook on a delayed basis to fit your schedule.

The procesor is also programmed to cook rice like any rice cooker and has a manual mode that allows you to cook just about anything, including stews, soups, gumbo, and much more. delivers convenience and consistency to your kitchen.

How to eat Fufu - Worthy tips about table manners included

This restaurant is located in Chicago. I have already added this to my list of restaurants to try the next time I'm in Chicago. This place has a variety of items on the menu. I am happy that they have received support from the community in promoting their business. That is awesome.


Heat and eat Jolloff Rice

This is a pleasant surprise. I was not expecting to find this ready to eat Jollof rice.

New from Cuisine Africana, a tasty rice cuisine from the Wollof tribe of Senegambia, enjoyed all over Africa and the Caribbean. Serves up to 2 persons.


A Jolloff Rice Recipe

Jollof Rice is a food most common in West Africa. Although many dispute its origins, most seem to believe that Senegal ought to take credit for its creation. To the Western world, however, it could be compared to 'Spanish Rice' where white rice is boiled and added to flavorful stock to make a delicious meal.


1 & 3/4 cup basmati rice

4 tbsp olive oil

3 heaped tbsp tomato paste

1 red onion chopped

2 red onions

2 tomatoes

2 fat cloves of garlic

3 piece of ginger

4 scotch bonnet chillies - reduce if you don't like it spicy

2 cubes of Maggie chicken cubes

2 carrots sliced diagonally

6 handful of french beans cut diagonally

7-8 okra's sliced diagonally

Salt to taste


In a food processor, grind together the ginger, garlic, chillies, tomatoes and 2 onions. Keep aside for later.

In a non stick frying pan heat the 4 tablespoons of olive oil and fry the chopped onion till soft then add the tomato paste and fry for further 3-4 minutes

Add the blended tomato and onion mix and fry well

Crumble in the 2 Maggie cubes and mix well. Cover and let it cook through, till the oil floats on the top

Add the rice and 2 cups of water, stirring it to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. In another frying pan, drizzle a few drops of olive oil and stir fry the beans, carrots and okra with a sprinkle of salt just till they are half done. Now add these to the rice, and by this time the rice will need some more water

Add 2 more cups of water, and cook till the water is almost evaporated.

Now cover and simmer of slow gas till the rice is cooked through

A how to cook Jollof Rice video - Traditional Recipe - courtesy Chi Chi

There are a variety of recipes available. This one by Chi Chi uses all ingredients are from "scratch" so it is my favorite. While it does take more time to prepare it is well worth it! I also like to have some Shito with my Jollof rice. Curious to know whether someone has plans to package and distribute Jolloff rice similar to Zatarain's Jambalaya Mix. Will let you know if I locate any. Yes I did. See Ready to Cook Jollof Rice above

Fried Plantains f
Fried Plantains f

Fried Plantains

Kelewele (Kele-wele) are flavorful fried plantain cubes. Simple to make, kelewele are plantain cubes, sprinkled with spices, and fried in hot oil. Kelewele are often sold by African street vendors. Originally from Ghana, kelewele have been popularized in America by several Kwanzaa books and websites.


1. four to six ripe plantain peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks

2. one-half teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper

3. two tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger root

4. one teaspoon salt

5. two tablespoons water or lemon juice

6. palm oil or vegetable oil for frying


Grind together grated ginger root, pepper, and salt, add water or lemon juice and mix.

Combine the plantain cubes and spice mixture; marinate for twenty minutes or longer

Heat oil in frying pan, over medium to high heat

Fry plantains until golden brown on both sides

Drain and serve

Image credit: Festival Food

A how to cook fried Plantains (kewele) video - Traditional Recipe - courtesy Chi Chi

Oh my goodness fried plantains are delicious and very easy to make. This has become a standard item on my grocery list. My favorite recipe includes making the ginger-based sauce and dipping prior to frying. Yummy!


What is Koeksister?

A koeksister is a piece of dough, usually in the shape of a plait, that is deep fried in oil and then dipped in a cold syrup mixture. If you keep your oil hot and the syrup very cold you get the perfect koeksister - crisp and crunchy on the outside and soft, moist and syrupy on the inside. Koeksisters are very rich (i.e. unhealthy) and is usually served as a special treat or kept for festive occasions. Making koeksisters is time-consuming and labour-intensive (another reason why it is not often made in modern day homes), so plan ahead to set a night and day aside for making this delicious treat. The syrup is made the night before to chill in the refrigerator in two containers. While making the koeksisters one of the containers is kept chilled in the refrigerator, to replace the other container of syrup when it heats up after a few batches of the fried dough have been dipped into the first container of syrup. If the syrup isn't cold the dough won't soak up the syrup and you will end up with a dry koeksister.


How to Cook Koeksisters


Koeksister Monument in Orania


Order African Food Products

More products are becoming available for purchase using the internet. Some of the special sauces can be shipped to your home. For those of you who have not been able to master the recipe, this is a great alternative and for those of you who may not have the time to make your own sauce this will work as well. For those who wish to make your own, we have provided a few locations where products can be purchased!

Featured author: Charles Cann

Tropical Ghana Delights, says Cann, offers advice for reducing the preparation and cooking times of many favorite Ghanian recipes. For example, Jollof Rice, is popular not just in Ghana, but throughout West Africa. It can take an hour, says Cann, to prepare the basic tomato, onion and spice mixture that gives the dish its basic flavor and color. The cook might duplicate that same mixture later in the week to prepare an okra stew. "What I recommend," Cann says, "is to use leftovers from previous cooking sessions and carry them on to the next cooking session."

Cann also demonstrates how cooks can make their favorite dishes healthier and more visually appealing. For example, if a dish calls for green peppers, he urges the cook to add red, orange and yellow peppers as well. "You bring in a little excitement," he laughs. "A little kick."


African inspired Cookbooks - on Amazon

There are many many more excellent African meals than what's been included on this lens, so here are a few suggested cookbooks to add to your collection.

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    • profile image

      Donna 9 days ago

      I remember as a small girl, a missionary to Africa came to our church and served us some African food. One dish was a cornmeal (or flour) bread-like dough you picked up with your fingers and dipped in a reddish colored sauce. Do you know what this would have been?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Shared to my MOTHER AFRICA Pinterest board and then also on my board called All Good Recipes. People need to find these recipes. My mouth is watering.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thanks, I enjoyed this lens. I know where to come for different recipes.

    • clspeaks profile image

      clspeaks 6 years ago

      @PurplePansy LM: You are welcome. I'm happy to know you found this useful.

    • PurplePansy LM profile image

      PurplePansy LM 6 years ago

      This lens is amazing! I've always wanted to learn more about foods from Africa. I learned so much from reading this. Thanks so much!

    • clspeaks profile image

      clspeaks 7 years ago

      @Erzulie LM: Thank you Erzulie!

    • Erzulie LM profile image

      Zulie 8 years ago

      I love this lens, very good recipes. Some of the recipes are similar to what my mom cooks at home. 5 stars, keep up the good work sister :o)

    • clspeaks profile image

      clspeaks 8 years ago

      @LadyelenaUK: Thanks for stopping by. I have really enjoyed researching this topic.

    • LadyelenaUK profile image

      LadyelenaUK 8 years ago

      Mmmmh. Very yummy. I wish I could taste it but I'm positive it tastes delicious.

      For the Recipes, I say "Medasi Papa".

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 8 years ago

      This is very interesting...I have never heard of these foods and will lensroll into any food or recipe lenses I have. Thank you for adding this to benefit RocketMoms Help for Haiti. ~claudia

    • Pryzym profile image

      Pryzym 8 years ago

      Wow. What a cool lens. Lots of yummy recipes and good information. I still can't believe there's a FuFuMagic food processor!