Waakye/Waache/Awaakye, as pronounced depending on which tribe one originates from in Ghana. Waakye originated with the northern tribes of Ghana and they are known to cook it best. It's however enjoyed by all Ghanaians now and it's popularly sold as a street food. It will probably top the list of the most eaten and enjoyed Ghanaian street food. As it's a heavy meal, it's normally eaten as brunch.
Waakye is basically a rice and beans dish. In the northern parts of Ghana, they have a special type of unrefined rice and red beans they use in making Waakye. However, one can get an equally good result using long grain rice and blackeye beans. The colour of a good Waakye should be reddish brown. This colour is got by adding millet leaves during the cooking stage. Another ingredient used during cooking is called Waakye Powder or Kanwe/Salt Peter/Chinese Salt (Potassium Nitrate). This helps to quickly soften the beans and it also helps to extract the colour from the beans and Waakye leaves. If you don't have Waakye Powder or Kanwe, don't panic, a good substitute is Bicarbonate of Soda. As this is salty, be careful in the amount of salt you use overall. Waakye is eaten with a good tomato based stew made with goat/cow meat, tripe, cowfoot and wele (cow hide). Ghanaians always say the best Waakye stew is made by the Northerners, they have a secret ingredient! (I'll share my version of Waakye stew later, this is as good as the Northerners stew because I was taught by my sister-in-law who is a Northerner). Waakye is served with a number of accompaniments and a good Waakye meal always comes with waakye stew, shito (black pepper sauce, see earlier post for recipe), talia (spaghetti), gari foto, fried ripe plantain, boiled egg, avocado pear and salad. With all these together, plus served on a Waakye leaf (Amala leaf), which gives a lovely scent to the Waakye, then you are in 'Waakye heaven'!
Cooking a good Waakye can sometimes be tricky but hopefully with my step by step guide lines you can get it right.
- 2 Cups Blackeye beans
- 2 Cups Rice long grain rice (sticky rice type)
- 4 cups Water to par boil beans and 3 cups to cook waakye
- 2 Tsp Waakye powder or Bicarbonate of soda
- 8 Stalks of Waakye leaves (millet leaves) tied in a bunch
- Salt to taste
- * I used Bicarbonate of Soda in this illustration.
- *Overall cooking time was 1hour 15minutes.
beans, place in a pot, add waakye leaves tied together, 1tsp of Bicarbonate of Soda (or Waakye Powder) and add 4 cups of water. Place on
the hob to boil. Waakye leaves can be found in a good shop that stocks
African food. If you don’t have the leaves, don’t panic. Using the Bicarbonate of Soda is enough to bring out the colour from the beans.
However, you may not get the reddish colour that comes from the Waakye leaves.
the beans are parboiled, that is a little bit soft, breaks apart between
the fingers with a bit of pressure or has a bit of bite to it, then it’s time to add the rice.
the 3cups of water to the beans and bring to the boil.
the rice and drain in a colander, add to the beans.
the other teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda. This will cause the liquid to foam and rise to
the top. Stir to prevent over spill and mix thoroughly.
salt to taste and stir well.
- Cover with aluminium foil and lower the heat
to medium to help the rice cook gently and evenly without burning. At this stage I move the pot to the smallest burner and put it on low heat.
the Waakye is soft, both beans and rice, remove aluminium foil and leaves. Switch off the heat and cover with
lid, let the steam do its work for about 5 minutes. Then it is ready to be served. If you didn't use Waakye leaves, this stage helps the Waakye to develop a little bit more colour.
- Serve with Waakye stew, gari foto, talia, avocado pear, fried ripe plantain and shito.