Today we’re going to look at some easy West African recipes, any of which you’ll be able to make in no time.
The countries that make up Western Africa include Nigeria, Gambia, Togo, Ghana, Mali, Benin, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Senegal. These countries have produced various delicious gems that are packed with flavor.
These dishes use traditional spices and seasonings such as cumin, ginger, bay leaf, cardamom, grains of paradise, and cinnamon. West African dishes embody the epitome of comfort food, and once you’ve had a dish, you are sure to have another.
So let’s get cooking.
1. Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe
Originating in West Africa, jollof rice is a popular dish that is a staple of Nigeria and Ghana. However, both countries have their own interpretation of the dish, which has become the source of many debates as to which is better. Nigerian Jollof rice is made with long-grain rice stewed in a tomato puree with spices and vegetables. This dish is hearty and can be eaten as a side dish or main course.
Jollof rice has the flexibility to be prepared as mild or as spicy as you’d like it to be. Cook the rice in a rich broth that’s tomato-based and seasoned with bay leaves, thyme, and aromatic curry.
You can make your Jollof rice as spicy or as mild as you like. It’s cooked in a rich, tomato-based broth and seasoned with aromatic curry, thyme, and bay leaves.
2. Fufu Recipe
Fufu is a famous West African “swallow” food. Swallow food means you can eat the food without chewing it. Fufu is a side dish that’s filling. It is dense, smooth, stretchy, and starchy. This dish is beloved because it’s delicious and partly because it is easy to prepare.
Fufu is not a dish that you’d eat alone. Lola insists that it should be served with flavorful stew or soup such as okra soup, egusi soup, or ewedu soup.
Moreover, Fufu is made from cassava which is also known as yuca. This starchy root vegetable is comparable to sweet potatoes, yams, and even russet potatoes.
3. West African Lamb Stew Recipe
West African Lamb Stew is chock full of flavor, and this is perhaps the perfect dish for you to add to your dinner table.
EV developed this delicious stew by experimenting with West African flavors such as habanero peppers, peanut butter, and stewed tomatoes. What’s more, this dish is very easy to prepare. You have the option to use lamb or any other protein you wish to incorporate into this recipe.
4. West African Peanut Stew Recipe
Peanut stew or Groundnut Stew, which is its original African name, is a stew that is tremendously rich in flavor. The consistency of the stew is thick and very flavorful, and it’s spicy to boot.
When preparing this dish, it is up to your discretion how hot you want to make it. You may be surprised to learn that there are many versions of groundnut stew recipes across the continent of Africa. They all vary according to vegetables, spices, and meats.
This is the quick and easy vegan version of groundnut stew which contains easy-to-find ingredients such as onion, garlic, tomato, peanut, sweet potato, and spinach.
5. Ghanaian Chalé Sauce Recipe
This sauce is so much of a staple in Ghana that it’s an everyday cooking sauce. You can choose to use whatever protein tickles your fancy because it will be delicious no matter what you desire. Next, blend the ingredients and store the uncooked sauce to be used later or you can cook it and cool it to be used immediately.
Zoe explains that making the sauce ahead of time saves valuable time in the kitchen. To save additional time, she says that you can make a massive batch once a week, further saving you time.
6. Nkate Cake Recipe
Nkate cake is deliciously sweet and is popular in Ghana and Equatorial Guinea. In some regions of Africa, this dish is also known as kongodo. This cake has an interesting crunchy texture made from roasted peanuts. You’ll mold it into small flat squares. Frankly, this small crunchy snack is addictive!
7. Fried Sweet Plantains Recipe
Fried Plantains can be eaten as a delicious snack or a complimentary side dish. This treat is soft and sweet on the inside and crispy on the outside. You can make fried plantains conveniently in a matter of minutes.
Imma suggests that eating fried plantains by themselves is an excellent experience in and of itself. However, serving them as a side to Jollof rice is also a great choice. This snack is popular in Central and Western Africa, and these are bountiful in the local grocery stores. All you need is ripe plantains, a bit of salt, and some oil, and you’ll be eating delicious fried plantains in no time.
8. Moin Moin Recipe
Moin Moin is a steamed pudding made of black-eyed peas, a combination of ground peppers and onions.
This dish is decently versatile, and some people opt to add corned beef, boiled eggs, or even smoked fish for some additional flavor. You can eat it alone, with rice or even bread.
9. Ghanaian Waakye Recipe
Waakye is a very popular morning meal in Ghana. Although it’s typically eaten for breakfast, waakye can be eaten throughout the day as well. This dish is both flavorful and filling; it brings together rice, beans, spaghetti, stew, and ground cassava.
The spaghetti is the only non-Ghanaian part of this recipe. This dish melds well with any protein of your choice, from boiled eggs meat to fish. If you wish to take this dish to another level, you can add vegetable salad or kelewele, which is spiced plantain.
10. Cachupa Recipe
Cachupa owes its origin to Cape Verde. This slow-cooked stew is made from sweet potato, cassava, corn, meat, or fish. This dish is often referred to as Cape Verde’s National dish. Interestingly, nine out of the ten inhabited islands have their own version of the dish.
11. Ndole Recipe
Ndole is one of Cameroon’s national dishes. It is a blend of spices, bitter leaf greens, copious amounts of oil, and protein through groundnuts, and there’s also an optional decision to add fish or meat. This dish is both calorie-dense and rich in flavor. You can find ndole at festivities in Cameroon all over.
12. Yassa Recipe
Tassa is a dish from Senegal, but it’s so tasty that it has become famous throughout West Africa.
Nympha says to marinate the chicken in mustard and lemon; next, you slowly grill the chicken to achieve a smoky flavor over a bed of caramelized onions, chilis, and garlic. Yassa can also be prepared with fish. This is one of the most popular dishes in West Africa.
13. Superkanja Recipe
Superkanja is one of the most popular foods in Gambian cuisine. It’s a sort of okra stew that not only packs a punch of flavor, but it’s pretty healthy as well. Using produce such as collard greens, spinach, sweet potato leaves, and okra, you’re getting many vitamins and antioxidants.
Mix these ingredients with chili peppers, onions, and your choice of fish and poultry, and whatever you’re going through at the moment won’t matter once the first bite hits your mouth! There are a lot of variations of this dish throughout West Africa, and they are all unique and delicious in their own way.
14. Efo Riro Recipe
Efo Riro, or Nigerian Spinach Stew, as the locals call it, is such an incredibly flavorful and rich soup that the Yoruba people consume regularly. The name itself comes from their native languages, and it means green leafy vegetable, while “riro” means stir. This is definitely at the top of the list for easy West African recipes, as you only need a few ingredients, and it’s filling.
15. Ogbono Soup Recipe
If you’ve never heard of the Ogbono fruit, you’re seriously missing out! It’s similar to a mango, and it produces nuts you’ll use in this soup. The nuts contain a lot of healthy fats and protein. It thickens the soup when you add palm oil, water, leafy greens, and chili peppers.
You can eat this soup with just veggies, or you can take Tayo’s advice and add meat or seafood like shrimp, crayfish, chicken, beef, goat, or lamb. You often pair this soup with fufu, which is a starchy side that resembles a ball of dough. The soup’s texture gets a little slimier if you add okra, but it’s still yummy. This Nigerian dish is a slam dunk.
16. Puna Yam Cake Recipe
The Puna Yam is similar to a sweet potato, and this recipe takes it to another level, using it in a dessert instead of a stew or soup. The crumb texture that the cake has is divine, considering that the cake doesn’t utilize flour.
It has a light sweetness from the condensed milk and sugar, making the cake moist and delicious. Make sure the puna yam tuber is mature; you can grab them at your local Nigerian grocery store at any time of the year.
17. Egusi Soup Recipe
You can find a good Egusi soup anywhere in West Africa, but it’s most famous in Nigeria. What’s so special about this dish is that it uses melon seeds rich in fat and protein that are ground up and used as a thickening agent.
Add oil, water, and the seeds to other greens like pumpkin leaf or bitter lead, and throw in some palm oil okra, tomatoes, seasonings, and a protein of your choice. It’s hearty and perfect for a cool autumn day.
18. Thieboudienne Recipe
Kesha represents Senegal well when making their national dish, Thieboudienne. She says that you usually use a smoked or fresh firm whitefish, but chicken works just fine as well. This dish has significant cultural importance.
I can’t get enough of the parsley and garlic marinade and the netetou, which is an African spice that distributes that delectable umami flavor throughout. Though this dish is pretty much rice, fish, and vegetables, it’s unforgettable, and you’ll be looking for a special occasion to grab some eggplant, fish, and sweet potatoes to toss in your crockpot.
Traditionally, you eat it communally with your hands or eat it with a spoon if you have guests. How cool!
19. Bean Fritters (Akara) Recipe
There’s no way to compile a list of east West African recipes without including a few snacks! Freda gives us the goods with this classic fritter from Nigeria. Also called Akara, these bean fritters use grounded cowpeas, spices, water, and oil, and you fry them to golden perfection.
Cowpeas, as they are called in West Africa, are black-eyed peas. The finished product looks a lot like a being, but the flavors are much different. Think of Akara as a fluffy and light chili bomb that you can munch for breakfast. West Africans love this staple bite!
20. Banga Soup Recipe
One of the most popular ingredients in West African cuisine is the Palm fruit (nut). You’ll find that everything from desserts, to soups, to stews use this item, and Banga soup is super yummy and one of our favorites on the list.
Gather up a wide variety of seafood, meat, vegetables, spices, greens, and seasonings, and you’re ready to make your own Banga soup. Catfish is one of the most used seafood additions, and don’t forget the fufu to make it authentic and tie all the flavors together.
21. Red Red Recipe
Thanks so much to Chichi for sharing this fantastic recipe for one of the most creative and tasty bean dishes throughout West African countries. Hailing from Ghana, Red Red gets its name from the meal’s color since it has tomatoes, red palm oil, and other spices.
A helpful tip is that tinned fish works just as well as fresh fish, and don’t be shy with the spices! Add rice or quinoa and plantains to the traditional staple as you’ve got a bowl of saucy, savory, spicy, and slightly sweet goodness at your disposal!
Easy West African Recipes, Final Thoughts
West Africa is known for rich textures, healthy vegetable and fruit bases, hearty soups and stews, and bold flavors. As these dishes continue to be shared with others, an appreciation for the culture and the food goes beyond African borders to the rest of the world. Try any one of these easy West African recipes today, and get hooked!