When in Ghana do as the Ghanaians do and join a waakye queue. Just like you would in New York City at Shake Shack whilst waiting for that insanely juicy and oh-so-good burger 😛🍔. You see, in Ghana there are two kinds of people; #TeamJollof and #TeamWaakye. But as a traveller to our food-obssessed country where every meal is a rich & enjoyable conversation, you really can't afford to pick one team over the other. You have to try both and I am your expert guide who will hold your hand ( virtually) and guide you on how to 1. Know How to Spot The Ultimate Waakye Joint 2. How to Buy Waakye Like A Pro .
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming along on this guide. Shall we begin?
A little background on waakye before we set off. Waakye originated from Northern Ghana and it's said the best waakye is made by Northern Muslim women. This is actually true and once in Ghana you have to visit ( definitely not alone) Nima market for authentic waakye. Waakye is made from rice and black-eyed beans and the dark reddish color comes from dry millet leaves which are boiled together in the rice and beans mix.
Dried millet leaves are the culprits for turning waakye into that lovely brownish-red color. . . It's said that the liquid from boiling these leaves is medicinal. True? . . #SeeMyChow #ghanaianfoodblogger #foodie #culture #foodspotting #spicesandherbs #millet #africanfood #africanfoodblogger #blogger #foodgram
As Ghanaians we eat waakye as breakfast and lunch. As a breakfast meal, it actually tastes much better due to the balance of the low morning temperatures and the spicy heat coming from the waakye. Keeps a fire burning within🔥🔥 you for the rest of the morning. It's quite common to see office workers in their suits, school children in their uniforms and even policemen in their mufti standing in queues waiting to buy breakfast.
1. HOW TO SPOT THE ULTIMATE WAAKYE JOINT
A waakye joint is always located by the roadside i.e it's a street food eatery. Restaurants in Accra serve waakye but to eat like the locals, buy waakye from the waakye street vendor. The vendors are mostly women ( I am yet to see a man selling waakye). The eatery is housed in a wooden shack or a metal container.
A great waakye joint has it's named written boldly on the front of the container. Example: Hajia Waakye Joint, Ewurade Na Aye Waakye (God Who Did It) , Nyame Ye Waakye ( God is Good Waakye). We are very religious in Ghana and God's name is always chosen as a business name for small & micro businesses.
Look out for the length of the queue infront of the waakye joint. Is it sparse? Are there many cars parked infront of the kiosk? Are there many office workers waiting patiently in line although its 8 in the morning? The longer the line, you are guaranteed of a great tasting waakye. Lines tell you that the waakye joint is popular amongst the locals. There's a funny thing we say amongst us that the waakye seller has 'jujued' all the buyers that's why they are repeat buyers & loyalists. But that's a joke oh 😉.
Most waakye joints are located by the street and thus possibly near an open gutter. We don't close our gutters here unfortunately. But before buying make sure it's a clean gutter not one choked with filth and crazy bug-eyed flies. Ok, so another 'inside' joke is that great waakye is always near an open gutter and there has to be a fly or two 😄😅 buzzing around. Don't mind them.
Be on the look out for Waakye leaves in the kiosk. The best waakye is sold in these magical leaves which add it's own unique flavour to your meal.
that waakye leaf
gives a unique flavor to waakye any day.
So now that you have identified a great waakye joint let's move on to how to buy waakye.
2. HOW TO BUY WAAKYE LIKE A PRO
Buying waakye isn't like buying kenkey and fish. It takes great skill to work your way around when it's finally your turn to buy your breakfast or lunch.
You have to decide ahead of time what you want in your waakye so that you don't look confused at the array of accompaniments. First of all these accompaniments to waakye are as follows: Spaghetti also called Taalia, fluffly gari ( drops of oil from the tomato sauce are mixed into gari giving it a slightly reddish color), boiled egg, salad (coleslaw type of salad), waakye stew with fried beef, wele (cooked down cowhide), fried fish, sometimes crunchy vegetables ( carrots and green pepper) and Kelewele ( diced deep-fried plantain) and lastly shitor (hot & spicy local black pepper which looks burnt) . See? That is alot to take in.
Waakye is sold by spoonfuls. There's a place in Osu which sells a spoonful of waakye for GHC2. Others sell it for GHC1.5 the lowest being 1 cedis. But that's it. If it's your first time, go easy with the minimum price which you can always ask first before buying.
First things first; tell the waakye seller that you want it in leaves. Sometimes you can be asked which container you want it in; takeaway pack, rubber ( transparent plastic bag) or leaves. Choose leaves. So waakye 1 cedis, next bulk together the gari and spaghetti and say you want both 1 cedis. The waakye seller will give you both ingredients at GHC1. Add wele which is actually a must, one fish ( priced between GHC 2- GHC 7 ) and salad 1 cedis but if you are wary you can stay away from that. If there's no kelewele or tatale ( deep fried sliced plantain) no worries. By now your waakye looks bulky and the original GHC1 rice and beans you bought now looks like GHC5 and you are wondering if you will be able to finish it up. The waakye will be finished up with pepper and a bit of stew. You can ask for little pepper or none at all but why miss out on the tangy fun? Are you vegan? Then buy everything else minus the beef and fish. Ask for a plastic spoon just before paying or you may have to eat with your hands which is also recommended for first timers. But ensure to wash your hands very well with soap.
Look around for an avocado seller at the joint or buy one at the nearest fruit stand. Avocado somehow goes great with waakye and not just with toast 😄. If it's in season you are lucky!
If you buy waakye in the morning, trust that you will not eat lunch early as its quite filling.
Well, that does it for this guide. I hope you have learnt something new and are much more informed on spotting great waakye joints in the city. Well, this also applies to most of the regions in Ghana.
Here's a video I made of one of my favourite waakye joints in Osu (possibly the best)
If you would like a personal tour of some popular waakye joints in Accra you can DM me on Instagram @oyooquartey and i will be glad to be of service.
Where's your favourite local waakye joint? In case I have missed any points do feel free to share them in the comments below.
This is a SeeMyChow contribution by the blog Editor & Life & Style blogger Naa Oyoo Kumodzi who writes at naaoyooquartey.com . She is a born foodie, lifestyle blogger, food stylist & photographer and social media strategist for businesses.