Apart from her historical heritage, extraordinary scenic beauty, and rich cultural diversity, Ghana is also home to some of the best range of dishes served in either international restaurants or street stalls. The country's delicacies are simple yet flavourful. Several spices in Ghana contribute to these sumptuous meals adding outstanding health benefits.
Part of the secret behind Ghana's delicious meals is their spices. Virtually every home in the country has a range of spices that make up its cuisine. While some are stored by smoking, others through drying, freezing, salting, and roasting. These herbs and their Twi names and uses are bound to level up your
The health benefits of these spices are part of what makes them essential ingredients in every meal. This is why knowledge of different spices in the country and their uses can impact how you prepare your meals, no doubt. Also, knowing Ghanaian spices and their English names could make finding them easier.
What are some of the common spices in Ghana?
These are some of the spices that have become household staples all over Ghana. Once you know the local names of spices in Ghana, you can visit your local grocery store, and you will be able to get them easily.
A common spice almost everywhere in the world, cloves are one of Ghana's most commonly used spices. Cloves in Twi are referred to as Dadoa Amba or Pepre. They are also called Mbrego Amba in Fante.
The aromatic spice has a sweet flavour and is best known for its use as a baking ingredient. However, you can also use the spice to season roasts and flavour hot beverages. Additionally, the herb has a plethora of health benefits.
2. Anise seeds
What are the 10 most popular spices? Known as Osu kon in Ga and Nkitinkiti in Twi, anise seeds are one of the most popular spices in Ghana. Consumption of anise seeds helps improve digestion, reduce nausea, and alleviate cramps.
In addition, the seeds contain thymol, terpineol, and anethole, which are good at relieving coughs. They can also relieve bloating, constipation, and stomach gas when taken in tea after meals. Anise has a sweet distinct, licorice-like taste and is often used to add flavor to desserts and drinks.
What spices do they use in Ghana? Basil is another herb used almost everywhere in Ghana. It is known as Akuko Besa in Twi. The herb is mostly used for cooking, although it is also an antidepressant for stress reduction, depression, and anxiety.
The taste of the herb mostly depends on which variety you are using. Sweet basil has a subtle peppery flavour and a hint of mint. Some other varieties have a taste of citrus and spice. Basil is commonly used in tea and may be added to soups or vegetables.
4. Senegal pepper
This pepper is called Hwentia or Ahentia in Twi and Soh in Ga. It also goes by the names Ethiopian pepper and Moor pepper. The spice has medicinal uses due to its microbial properties. When used sparingly, it gives a nutmeg-like taste and a bitter taste when taken in excess. The spice is mostly used in soups and stews by chefs.
5. West African black pepper
The spice is known as Esoro Wisa in Twi and Wie Din in Ga. Interestingly, one can eat the pepper's leaves. In terms of hotness, the pepper is not as hot as other peppers like the African bird pepper.
It has a clove-like flavour in soups, stews, some chewing gum, and cornmeal porridge when used in minimal quantities. Also, it increases appetite while reducing constipation and indigestion in the body.
6. African bird pepper
African bird pepper or chilli is scientifically known as Akweley Waabiin in Ga and Misewain in Twi. It can also be called Piri-Piri, Malagueta pepper, or African Devil. The taste of this chilli is very hot and is suitable for spicy foods for lunch or dinner.
Medicinally, African black pepper is used for enemas. It reduces blood pressure, helps digestion of foods by stimulating peristalsis, breaks up phlegm, and eases stomach upsets.
7. Guinea pepper
Also called Grains of Paradise, alligator pepper, and Melegueta pepper, guinea pepper is known as Efom Wisain or Efom Wisa in Twi, Wire Tsuruin in Ga, and Essa in Nzema. The spice has a savoury flavour, and medicinally, it is used for its anti-microbial and aphrodisiac properties.
8. African nutmeg
What are the 12 spices most used in Ghana? The African nutmeg or Calabash nutmeg is one of the most commonly used spices in the country. It is also known as Wedie Abain and Awerewain in Twi. It can reverse liver toxicity induced by high cholesterol diets and exerts a hypercholesterolaemic effect.
The spice has a warm and nutty taste with a deeper woodiness than the normal nutmeg variety. It is ideal for seasoning in savoury dishes and is sometimes roasted to intensify its flavour.
9. Turkey berry
Turkey berry is known as Abeduruin or Kwahu Nsosuain in Twi. The bitter spice is also known as wild eggplant or prickly nightshade. Its other local names are Kwanwu nsosuaa, Kantɔsi, and Abeduru. The leaves of the turkey berry are rich in iron and vitamin C, making them suitable for pregnant women.
10. African locust bean
African locust bean is known as Dawadawa in Twi. The spice has a sweet, sour taste and contains riboflavin and thiamine minerals. Additionally, it helps to promote good sight and rids off hypertension and disease conditions like stroke and diabetes.
When burnt in a coal pot like incense, it gives off a sweet aroma. Some say that aridan/prekese is a symbol of power, while others claim that it increases the quality of baby milk in lactating mothers. It also increases their blood flow and eliminates blood clots. At the same time, it possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
Dried or smoked fish such as prawns or crayfish are ground into a powder and used as a savoury seasoning in spinach stew. The result is known as Nkontomire or a bean stew locally known as Aboboi.
Potash, otherwise called Potassium Carbonate (K2CO3), is locally known as Kanwu or Kaawe. Besides its chemical use in industries, it is used in preparing Waakye, a mush of rice with beans. The local spice is also a salt substitute due to its salty taste. It serves as a food thickener and tenderizer. You may also use food-grade quality potash to increase the pH of wine.
14. Waakye leaves
Waakye is the local name for sun-dried leaves or stalks of red sorghum. When added to food, it adds a red colouring that is appealing to the eye. In addition, it has a mild earthy flavour that is similar to wheat berries.
15. Unripe pawpaw
Unripe pawpaw is diced and added to meat to tenderize it. The enzyme papain is responsible for this characteristic. You may also marinate the meat with the pulp before cooking. Unripe papaya is odourless and tastes bitter.
16. Alligator pepper
This West African spice is made from the seeds and pods of Aframomum danielli. The pepper is used in Ghanaian cuisine, imparting a pungency and spicy aroma to soups and stews. Do you know the name for alligator pepper in Twi? The popular spice is also known as mbongo spice or hepper pepper.
The spice has a strong flavour and brings warmth to dishes and a hint of subtle sweetness. Whether it is used fresh, dried or as an oil, it has significant health benefits. It helps fight bacteria, reduces inflammation, and is also rich in antioxidants, which help fight harmful free radicals in the body.
18. Cumin seeds
Cumin seeds are a typical ingredient in many spice blends. Cumin adds instant depth to any dish due to its warm flavours with a hint of citrus. The spice is native to Asia, Africa, and Europe and is famous for its many health benefits. Cumin seeds in Twi are known as nkitinkiti.
19. Ashwagandha (roots, leaves, seeds)
Its common names are Indian ginseng, Winter cherry, and Ajagandha. It is commonly used as a stress reliever and for boosting the immune system. Ashwagandha has a bitter taste and doesn't always mix well with food.
The seeds possess a diuretic effect, while the leaves have sedative, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. In Ghana, the roots are known for their anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, sedative, immune boosting, and analgesic properties.
Also called Buffalo grass, Lucerne, or Chilean clover, alfalfa's stem, leaves, and sprouts are rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins. The herb, which has a slightly nutty taste, is suitable for treating arthritis and digestive problems.
It can be used as a diuretic and can reduce high cholesterol. It also has a high concentration of beta-carotene, which builds the immune system. In addition, the herb's chlorophyll is suitable for people with body odour and bad breath.
21. Boswellia (resin)
The herb, which has s pleasant aroma, is a remedy for diabetes, rheumatism, asthma, cardiovascular disorders, and fevers. It is also an effective anti-inflammatory and can be used to ease joint pains.
22. Cayenne pepper
Also called red pepper, capsicum, and chilli pepper, cayenne is used to relieve pain and combat infections. It is also suitable for toothaches and arthritis and aids digestion.
In addition, the spicy herb's anti-bacterial properties stimulate blood flow and are rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, which help maintain cardiovascular health. However, cayenne is a skin irritant and may cause discomfort.
23. Cinnamon (bark)
Cinnamon aids digestion and treats nausea, cold, and inflammations. In addition, the bark has essential oils that possess anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Cinnamon has a sweet and woody flavour with a slight citrusy note.
24. Ginseng (root)
Ginseng's root has adaptogenic properties that help a person handle mental and physical stress better. The bitter herb is good for warding off fatigue, sharpening mental abilities, and energizing the body. In addition, ginseng is an immune system booster. However, it is unsuitable for high blood pressure patients, and prolonged usage causes irritability.
25. Turmeric (root)
Turmeric contains a chemical substance called curcumin, a natural liver detoxifier. It also can potentially prevent cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease and may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis. The spice is overwhelmingly earthy and bitter, with a bit of pepper spice.
Cardamom is a spice sourced from India and known for its intense flavour. It is used in traditional medicine to help digestion. Cardamom has a strong aroma and a sweet-spicy flavour.
27. Coriander seeds
Coriander seeds are dried seeds that come from the same plant as cilantro, a popular herb. The fragrant spice, full of antioxidants, is used for its many culinary and health benefits. The seeds have a pleasing lemony flavour and aroma.
28. Curry powder
Curry powder is a blend of spices and herbs used to flavour food. It usually includes bold flavours like chilli peppers, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, and even curry leaves. This spice is commonly used to flavour soups, stews, and vegetables. Due to its ingredients, this spice tastes both sweet and savoury.
Ginger remains a popular spice used as a remedy for nausea and other health issues. The benefits of ginger in the kitchen and for your health make it one of the best Ghanaian spices to stock up on. Ginger has a slightly peppery and sweet taste.
This spice made from dried and ground red peppers continues to be a game changer in the kitchen. Paprika has a sweet and peppery taste and can be used to bring any dish to life.
Mace is a yellowish-brown spice from the dried lacy coating of the nutmeg seed. Mace is mostly used in baked goods due to its sweet flavour.
With great care, Yesenia Lacayo transfers a tiny frog from a leaf, where it was sleeping, to a plastic container with breathing holes, some water, and enough room to jump.
Garlic is a spice often added to dishes in small amounts to heighten the flavours. Garlic is widely used as a flavouring in cooking but can also be used for medicinal purposes. When eaten raw, garlic has a pungent taste and odour. However, the heat gives the garlic a sweet buttery flavour if used for cooking.
Spices not only improve the taste of food but are also a good source of vitamins, iron, calcium, and other antioxidants. So adding a few spices can elevate the whole meal and make it taste better. These spices in Ghana are just what you need to make your meals better.
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