Waakye is a dish of Ghanian style rice and beans. White rice and beans like black eyed peas, cow peas or red beans are boiled along with waakye leaves and a little salt until they are soft. There are no other flavorings or spices added. The dish is then paired with other foods to make a complete meal.
While Waakye is the name of the dish, it is also the name of the leaves that give this dish its reddish color. Pronounced “Waa-chee” or “Waa-chey”, the leaves can be millet, sorghum or red hibiscus flowers which is called sobolo in Ghana. As the leaves cook, they release a red pigment which colors the rice and beans.
Some recipes for Waakye call for Kanwa, which is common in Ghanian cuisine. In English, Kanwa is known as Potash. It is a rock salt which is used to shorten cooking times in items like beans because it softens it quickly. It is also used to tenderize meat, thicken sauces and stews and as a seasoning.
Waakye is a popular breakfast food. It is also eaten for lunch and as street food. When eaten as street food it is served with items like hard boiled eggs, spaghetti, meat or fish and fried plantains, topped with hot sauce. It’s not unusual to be served this entire dish wrapped in banana leaves. Waakye is sometimes served as a side with meat stew.
Origin and Cultural Significance
Waakye originates from Northern Ghana where the ingredients for Waakye, rice, beans, millet and sorghum are staple foods. Waakye is typical of Ghanian cuisine where meals usually consists of a starchy component, sauce and a protein. Today it is a regular food in households and is sold everywhere on the street and in restaurants. It has even become popular in other African countries like Nigeria.
Ghanian Waakye Recipe
- Dried black eyed peas, soaked overnight – 1 cup
- White rice- 2 cups
- Dried millet stalk leaves – 10
- Water for cooking
- Salt to taste
- Fill a pot with about 4 cups of water.
- Add the millet leaf stalks
- Boil the water and millet leaf over high heat. The millet
leaves will begin to turn the water a deep red color.
- Rinse the soaked beans and add the boiling water.
- Cover the beans let it cook until it is tender. Add water by
the cup if the beans dry out before they are soft.
- Rinse the rice until the water is clear and add to the soft
- Add the salt and more water if needed.
- Stir the pot and replace the cover. Lower the heat and
simmer the rice until it is cooked thouroghly and all the water has absorbed.
- Turn off the heat and let the pot rest for 5 minutes.
- Remove the millet leaves fluff the rice and beans with a
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 761Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 164mgCarbohydrates: 150gFiber: 10gSugar: 3gProtein: 27g
Photo credit: daSupremo