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excerpts from Ghana Recipe Book

1970: Mrs. E. Chapman Nyaho

Ghana Recipe Book by Mrs. E. Chapman Nyaho, et al (Accra-Tema, Ghana: Ghana Publishing Corporation, 1970) is another early cookbook from Ghana, one of the first African countries to achieve independence after European rule, and, evidently, one of the first to publish cookbooks written by Africans for Africans.


Ghana Recipe Book

Mrs. E. Chapman Nyaho
Dr. E. Amarteifio
Miss J. Asare

Ghana Publishing Corporation

Traditional Dishes and Beverages

Jεmkplε with crab
Jεmkplε with chicken
Akplijii or Aprapransa

The authors are aware that in the minds of many Ghanaians, the words "traditional dishes" might mean dishes indigenous to the country as a whole, e.g. Groundnut soup, palmnut soup, fufu are some of the dishes considered traditional when presenting Ghanaian food to foreigners. This is to explain that by "traditional dishes" they mean dishes used only during traditional rites, festivities or special occasions.

Oto or Εto or Oto

Oto [Oto] is an Akan as well as Ga traditional dish with the following as its ingredients. (Yam, Eggs, Palm Oil. No seasoning.)

Method for preparing Yam Oto

Peel and wash yam. Put a saucepan containing salted water on the fire. Cut the yam into reasonable sizes and put into the saucepan on the fire. Add the eggs to the yam and allow both to boil till both yam and eggs are cooked. Take out the yam pieces and mash until smooth. Add salt and palm oil and rub into the mashed yam. Serve with boiled eggs.

The following are some of the various occasions when oto [oto] is used, namely,

  1. (a) outdooring -- of naming the new baby;
    (b) purification of the mother after birth.
    Oto is prepared for the participants in (a) and (b)

  2. Puberty ceremonies for young adolescent girls and their friends.

  3. (a) Twins -- these in the Akan and Ga culture are considered sacred. On special days for twins oto is prepared for them. Each twin has to be given a whole boiled egg with his oto; they are supposed not to share one between them because that would be considered as splitting them. In the old culture, presents to twins always had to be identical. They became rather expensive individuals and that was why they were preferably given together in marriage to the chief of the tribe, since he was considered the wealthiest man able to cope with such a phenomenon.
    (b) Mansa or Mensah (third consecutive child of the same sex), Ason (the seventh), Badu (the tenth) all sacred numbers in the Akan or Ga cultures, all are given oto on special occasions to satisfy their "souls" as it was believed. Tawia (the child born immediately after twins) also comes under the above category.

  4. At yearly or annual festivals, e.g., Ohum (new maize or corn or yam harvest celebration of some of the Akans), Odwira (purification of the state and ceremonial eating of new yam of the Akans); during all these festivals oto is used as the food for the spirits and ancestors.

  5. Deaths -- after the 1st and 3rd weeks of of deaths in a family, the house is sprinkled with oto to satisfy the dead. Members of the family eat oto at this time. The meal is specifically prepared for the Nsamanfo (the dead), and the Ateasefo (the living) partake of it as a sort of sacrament. Participants take some of the oto to the cemetery for the dead.

  6. In the Akan calendar which runs 40 days, there are special days known as Dabone (Bad Days), e.g., Fida Fofie, Awukudae, and Akwasidae, the days on which the gods must be pacified or supplicated. No work is to be done on such days. Nna pa (Good Days) are the normal days for ordinary business.

  7. Special occasions in normal adult life, e.g., recovery from illness, escape from accidents, birthdays, oto is the customary dish prepared to thank the nsamanfo (spirits) by sharing a meal, oto [oto], with them. The nsamanfo are believed to dislike food which is highly seasoned. Hence oto is given without salt or pepper.

Yam Fufu with Plain Soup

Yam fufu with plain soup prepared with either chicken or home-slaughtered sheep or goat's meat is also a special dish used on grand occasions and festivals such as Odwira, Weddings, etc., in Akan and Ga cultures. Mutton is preferable on the grander occasions and goat's meat is reserved for small family affairs.


This is a Ga traditional dish used during the Homowo festival. Kpokpei is a traditional dish served with palmnut soup prepared with fish only, for lunch by the Gas on special days during the Homowo festivals. This Kpokpei is also served with chicken or meat plain soup for other special occasions. Chiefs and the people in general sprinkle Kpokpei for their dead.

Palmnut Soup

Here are some of the various occasions when "Palmnut Soup" is used:

  1. A week after childbirth, the father of the baby brings some food-stuffs to the house to welcome the new baby. A special meal is cooked for the mother of the baby and she enjoys it with her friends and the household.

    The special soup prepared for this occasion is palmnut soup because it is supposed to give the nursing mother plenty of milk to feed the baby.

    In Fante areas the foodstuffs sent by the father to the nursing mother would be palmnuts, plantains and one or two chickens. See recipe for palmnut soup and fufu.

  2. Palmnut soup is used with other dishes for wedding celebrations.

  3. Palmnut soup is also used on special occasions like after engagements. Lunch is usually prepared on such occasions for friends to celebrate the happy day with.

Nkyekye (Palmnut Stew)

In the Akim area, palmnut stew is used as the traditional dish eaten throughout the week during the Ohum celebrations. Boiled yam is the usual starchy vegetable served with it during this period: fufu is not eaten.

Ayi kεsε (Memorial of the Dead)

The traditional dishes mentioned in this section of the book are prepared for some families on the occasion of the remembrance of the dead. The prepared food is put in earthenware pots and covered, and it is carried by virgins and left by the roadside for the dead.

Odehye Wu (The death of a member of the royal household)

On this occasion a sheep is slaughtered and the meat is cooked with salt and water only. This special plain soup is cooked by men only on three large pieces of firewood. The meat is eaten only by members of the family.


A Ga traditional dish for customary marriages. On the morning of the wedding, the bride-to-be invites friends to her home where they dance and play all sorts of games. Meanwhile the Fotoli is being prepared by elderly women. This food when cooked is served in a large bowl and the bride-to-be eats together with her friends. Also in the olden days one section of Accra had celebrations in which a girl who had reached puberty was dressed in grand new clothes and pelted with fotoli. This was a sign that she had reached womanhood and she could eat fotoli and take part in public worship.

Akplijii (Aprapransa)

This was used in the old days to pacify the witch. It was assumed that when a person was believed to be haunted by a witch, the meal was prepared and left by the roadside, as a substitute for the haunted person. The witch was thus pacified.

Kyim or Ntsin

This is a special dish prepared with the blood of the sheep of goat slaughtered for a special occasion (purification or thanksgiving) in the cultures of the different tribes, especially the Akan, Ga and Ewe. Preparation: -- The Twi method: The basic ingredients are almost exactly like that of palmnut soup. The meat used is usually the offal of the animal.


Prepare a thin palmnut soup using the normal palmnut soup method. Addition of the blood: Take 2 parts of the almost cooked palmnut soup to 1 part of the sheep or goat's blood for thickening. Salt is added to the blood collected from the animal to prevent clotting. Rub or pass blood through a sieve and add the required quantity to the soup. Stir whilst adding until the soup thickens. Simmer gently (for about 20-30 minutes) until well cooked. This is served with festival yam fufu and plain soup or with yam ampesi (boiled yam). Note. -- Kyim is normally made in the chief's house. The animal used will be certified as free from illness before it is slaughtered. Normally, for a festival of purification or thanksgiving, only the best animal is selected.

Ntsin (Ga method)

Put the sheep's blood into a bowl, add salt to prevent clotting. Cut some of the offal into small pieces and wash well. Put into a cooking pot, add a little water and set on the fire. Wash and cut chopped onions and add to meat. Wash tomatoes and pepper, add to meat and cook till done. Remove tomatoes and pepper and grind and return to pot. Add the blood and cook till gravy is thick and well cooked and meat is very tender. Serve with kenkey.

Groundnut Soup

Groundnut soup is one dish which is universally served at several celebrations. Weddings. -- Groundnut soup is cooked with beef, mutton or chicken in large quantities for big parties. This soup is served with fufu or yam ampesi, or rice or aboloo.

Jεmkplε or Aprapransa or Akplijii

See recipes for all.

The basic ingredient for Jεmkplε, or Aprapransa, or Akplijii is roasted cornmeal. The dish is used occasionally for luncheon parties as a side dish. It is also used by some groups as food for the spirits of their dead relations.

Sεnsε (A Guan dish)

(Used by the Boso, Anum people)

This dish is similar to aprapransa except that stock from mutton is used to mix the roasted cornmeal, and no seasoning is added. This dish is put in an earthenware plate and covered with plenty of meat and then it is taken to a fetish grove to feed the fetish.

Traditional Beverages

Those used by the Akans:
Palmwine -- "Ntunkum" -- fresh palmwine
"Odae" -- fermented palmwine
Ahai -- corn beverage or wine

Those used by the Gas: -- examples of these are:
Tεdaa -- Palmwine
Πmεdaa -- corn beverage or drink
Refer to recipe.

Those used in the Northern Region:
Ginger Wine




  • 2 cups dry corn
  • A few dry peppers (2 to 4)


Wash and parboil the corn. Dry the corn well and roast till golden brown. Grind the corn with the pepper to a fine powder. Sift well and store to use. To use as cereal, add water and sugar to taste.

Oto (Mashed yams and eggs)


  • 3 lb. yam
  • ½ cup palm oil
  • Pepper and salt to taste
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 small onion (optional)


Peel yam and cut into pieces. Put into pot, add salt and water, boil till soft. Drain water and mash yam. Grind pepper and onion together and add to oto (optional). Add palm oil and mix well. Serve with the hard-boiled eggs.

Fotoli (Corndough and chicken soup)


  • 1 chicken
  • 3 cups corndough
  • 5 tomatoes
  • 6 small onions
  • Pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 pt. palm oil


Prepare chicken. Cut into pieces, put into pot and set on fire. Add chopped onions and palm oil. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring all the time. Add enough water to cover chicken. Add tomatoes and pepper and cook till tender. Remove and mash. Return to soup. Take a little corndough, mix with a little water and add to soup. Make the rest into small balls and add to soup (similar to dumplings). Season to taste. Cook till meat is tender. Serve hot.

Kpokpei (Special dish for Ga festival)


  • 6 cups dry corn
  • 6 okros
  • Salt
  • 1 pt. palm oil (optional)
  • Corn husks


Soak corn for 2 days. Wash and grind corn. Sprinkle a little water on top of cornmeal and cover it overnight. Rub through a sieve. Place a steamer over a pot of boiling water and seal edges with a little corndough. Cover bottom of steamer with clean corn husks. Put sifted cornmeal into steamer and allow it to cook over steam for about half an hour, until kpokpei gives out a yeasty aroma. Slice okros and cook in a little water until very tender. Mash and add salt. Immediately kpokpei is taken out of steamer, sprinkle with salted cold water, use a wooden spoon to break all lumps. Mix with mashed okro, stir well. If palm oil is used, heat and mix with kpokpei evenly. Serve with palmnut soup.


INGREDIENTS: Enough for 4 people

  • 1 ½ cups roasted cornmeal (kyekyire)
  • 3 small onions
  • 4 peppers
  • A little salt fish
  • ½ cup palm oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Some smoked fish if desired (about 1 lb.)


Grind peppers, onions and salt together. Heat palm oil in a saucepan. Add ground peppers and salt fish to it. Let is fry for 5 minutes. Wash smoked fish and remove bones. Break fish into small pieces and add to the mixture. Add water and bring to the boil. Sprinkle cornmeal on water and keep stirring to prevent it from forming lumps. Add cornmeal slowly and stir mixture turning it over and over with a wooden spoon until it is firm to touch. Season to taste. Dish it out in spoonfuls or in rounds. Serve hot.
Use 2 ½ cups palmnut soup (cooked) instead of palm oil and water. Add the ground peppers and onions and stir in the cornmeal.
Add cooked red beans or broad beans (about 1 cup).

Akplijii or Aprapransa


  • 4 cups palmnut liquid
  • 2 cups ablemanu (roasted cornmeal)
  • 1 cup cooked beans
  • 1 cup flaked smoked herrings
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ medium-sized onion (chopped)
  • 3 medium-sized tomatoes
  • [1 chile pepper, cleaned and chopped]
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Salt fish (Lonshra) to taste


Put flaked fish, chopped onion, tomatoes and pepper into a pot, add water and put on fire to cook. Remove tomatoes and pepper, grind and return to pot. Add palmnut liquid, salt and salt fish and allow to cook for about [30 minutes. Add roasted cornmeal and beans. Cook for about 20 minutes] and keep stirring to prevent lumps. Cook until the akplijii is firm enough to leave the sides of the pan. Serve hot with gravy.

To make gravy:

  • ½ medium-sized onion
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  • [1 chile pepper, cleaned and chopped]
  • Pepper and salt to taste
  • ½ cup palm oil
Prepare and slice onion and tomatoes. Grind pepper. Fry all ingredients together in palm oil and add salt. Spread on akplijii.


INGREDIENTS: Enough for 3 people

  • 1 cup dried beans soaked overnight
  • 4 peppers
  • 6 onions
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 coconut grated
  • 3 cups water added to grated coconut
  • 1 ½ cups roasted cornmeal (kyekyire)
  • Fish and shrimp may be added


Place beans in a saucepan. Add coconut juice to it, and cook until beans are tender. Add ground pepper, tomatoes and chopped onions to the beans and salt to taste. Mix beans to a paste. Add cornmeal, gradually stirring all the time for about 5 minutes. Serve hot with stew or oto.

Jεmkplε with crab

INGREDIENTS: Enough for 4 people

  • 4 large crabs
  • 6 onions
  • 3 peppers ground
  • 2 tomatoes
  • A little salt fish if desired
  • 1 cup palm oil
  • 3 cups roasted cornmeal or more
  • A little ginger
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • Extra pepper and salt and onions for serving


Wash crabs well, clean and boil with water. Add ground pepper, ginger, tomatoes, onions and salt. Boil the salt fish and add to crabs. Add palm oil and cook crabs well in juice. Remove the crabs. Add cornmeal, gradually stirring all the time. Cook for about 5 minutes. Grind extra pepper, onions and salt to serve with the crabs and jεmkplε. Serve hot.

Jεmkplε with chicken

INGREDIENTS: Enough for six people

  • 1 three-pound chicken
  • Enough water to cook chicken (6 cups)
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 6 onions
  • 4 peppers
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup palm oil
  • A little ginger
  • 3 (or more) cups roasted cornmeal
  • 6 peppers
  • 6 onions
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Grind and add to chicken


Prepare chicken and cut by joints, sprinkle with salt. Grind pepper, tomatoes and onions and ginger. Put on chicken and cook for about ten minutes. Add water, palm oil and cook meat till tender, add salt to taste. Remove chicken from juice with ½ cup juice, leaving about 4 cups of the juice in the pot. Add cornmeal, stirring gradually until firm to touch. Put the rest of the ground pepper, tomatoes and onions on the chicken with about a cup of the stock and cook until it is nice gravy. Serve jεmkplε with chicken.

The Twi alphabet The names of many Ghanaian dishes are written in the Twi alphabet which uses most of the Latin characters of the English alphabet, plus a few special characters.

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