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The best of West African cuisine

29 August 2023

The best of West African cuisine

Discover some of our favourite African flavours from Ghana, Gambia, Nigeria

Discover the tastes of regions

West Africa is a sprawling area of the mother continent backing onto the Atlantic, comprised of no less than 16 beautiful counties all with their own tastes, vibes and identities. Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte D’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo are within the subregion, with a population of about 420 million people. More than six times that of the UK.

 Flavours and Influence of West Africa

Although tastes vary throughout the vast region, there’s a certain style present throughout, with the likes of homegrown tomatoes, onions and chilli peppers making up the base of a lot of tasty dishes. They’re most often sauteed in palm nut oil, squeezed from the freshy fruit of the trees that grow throughout the region. And as the oil doesn’t smoke until it reaches a really high temperature (somewhere in the territory of 230°C), it’s perfect for both cooking and baking.

Favourite foods and dishes of West Africa

So, without further ado, let’s delve into the best of the west, to give you a few ideas of how to bring an element of West African cooking into your kitchen. Our top five goes a little bit like this… 

Waakye, Ghana

Where best to start than with the most important meal of the day? Waakye has a home in Ghana, perfect for breakfast, but also enjoyed from dawn ‘til dusk. The dish is served in a banana leaf, with the main protein most commonly being either fish, meat or egg. It’s joined by beans, rice, moist gari (a type cassava) and kelewele, spicy plantain. A wonderful collection of tastes to get your day started just right.

The best of West African cuisine

Superkanja, Senegal and The Gambia 

This action-packed stew is known as Gambia’s super soup. It’s served over white rice and it has it all. Fish or meat is cooked with the likes of spinach, collards, yams and okra, and flavoured with onions and chilli peppers. Hearty, healthy and suitable all day long. 

Suya, Nigeria 

If your tummy’s rumbling while exploring Nigeria, you might be interested in snacking on some suya. These spiced skewers of meat, most commonly chicken or beef, are grilled over an open fire for a crispy, smoked finish. Best enjoyed with an ice-cold beer, to soften the fiery dipping sauce, often made with the likes of ginger and cayenne pepper.  

Fufu, Ghana

Fufu (also spelt fufuo, foofoo or foufou), is renowned and enjoyed across the region. It’s a staple, starchy side, made from boiled and mashed cassava, yams, and plantains, often seen accompanying a hearty soup or stew. The quite mild taste perfectly complements a range of mains, and isn’t too dissimilar to the Belgian stoemp, or German kartoffelklöße.

See our Grilled chicken Suya recipe HERE

Jollof rice, regional  

This side dish is ubiquitous in West Africa, and even welcomes a bit of healthy competition between the neighbouring countries, dubbed the (non-violent) jollof wars. The spicy rice contains scotch bonnet peppers, bell peppers, curry powder, tomato paste and mixed herbs. If you’re interested in making your own, we’ve got a delicious recipe for you right HERE

The best of West African cuisine

If you want to explore more cuisines from around the world, check out our cuisine guide for China the Caribbean or the Middle East.