13 Popular Christmas Foods in Ghana
Christmas in Ghana is a huge festivity that brings family, both nuclear and extended, together to bond over tasty meals. The preparations for the festivities begin on Christmas Eve as people stock their fridges and kitchen with all kinds of fish, meat, and ingredients anticipating the break of dawn.
Food prices skyrocket as demand increases, but that does little to dampen the spirit of Christmas because most workers receive Christmas bonus payments that cushion the artificial inflation.
Christmas foods in Ghana are as culturally diverse as the people, thus one Christmas food in one part of Ghana is completely different from the dish in another region. Therefore, we’ve compiled the most popular Ghanaian Christmas dishes that are common throughout the country.
1. Rice and Tomato Sauce with Chicken
On top of the list is rice and tomato sauce – the most popular meal enjoyed during yuletide. Back in the 1980s and the early 1990s, rice was scarce, thus, it was only eaten on special occasions such as national and religious holidays.
Gradually, rice became a Christmas ‘thing’ and to date, it is the most popular food eaten during the Christmas holidays.
The rice is simply boiled for a while till it becomes soft, but the sauce is not so straightforward. First, the chicken is cut and steamed in a mixture of blended onions, garlic, and ginger.
The sauce is then prepared by frying fresh blended tomatoes until it thickens after which the chicken and its stock are added. This meal is called ‘White rice and stew’ to distinguish it from other rice-based dishes.
2. Jollof Rice with Chicken
This delectable West African dish has been the subject of many friendly ‘wars’ between three West African nations, including Ghana, over which of them prepares the best version.
Its preparation requires a lot of attention or the rice will burn and ruin the Christmas dinner. Jollof is simply rice boiled in a tomato sauce and is accompanied by fried or roasted sliced chicken.
Editor’s Note: Jollof rice is also a popular Christmas food in neighboring Nigeria.
3. Fried Rice with Pepper Sauce and Chicken
Here, the rice is first boiled and later stir-fried with vegetables such as cabbage, green sweet peppers, carrots, and onions. Soy sauce is occasionally added to give the rice a darker color and to make the meal tastier.
It is mostly accompanied by salads, either as a side dish or as garnishing.
4. Fufu and Tomato Soup with Chicken or Goat
Aside from rice and its various versions, Ghanaians love their fufu with tomato soup, popularly referred to as light soup, and chicken or goat. Fufu is a starchy Ghanaian food that is popular throughout the country but its ingredients differ depending on where it’s being prepared.
In the south, cassava and mostly plantain (a banana-like fruit) or cocoyam are used to prepare fufu, while northerners prefer to use yam. However, the method of preparation is the same as the ingredients (cassava, yam, plantain, etc) are boiled and later pounded into a dough.
The meal is enjoyed with tomato soup, which is made from boiled tomato, eggs, onions, and chicken or goat.
In the north, the yam fufu is eaten with peanut butter soup due to the abundance of peanuts in the region. Others prefer to enjoy their fufu with roasted guinea fowl or boiled pork.
5. Banku with Fried Fish or Tilapia
Many who are unable to afford rice during Christmas and are not huge fans of fufu, turn to this delicacy when Christmas comes around.
Banku is another starchy food made by mixing corn dough with cassava dough and stirring the mixture over heat till it becomes solid. It is a popular dish enjoyed by most Ghanaians from the southeast and rural folk.
Banku can be eaten with all kinds of soup, but most people prefer its traditional accompaniment – a blend of fresh raw onions, pepper, and tomatoes with a pinch of salt to taste.
It is less expensive to prepare, compared to rice or fufu dishes, but has a spicy taste that can set the tongue on fire. In rural areas, it is enjoyed meal with roasted anchovies or tilapia, while others love their banku with fried fish.
Popular Christmas Drinks in Ghana
Most urban dwellers prefer champagne or wine for during Christmas, but the majority of Ghanaians in rural areas love their local drinks for celebrating the festivities. These delicacies are brewed with ingredients found in the locality and are a healthier choice.
This blood-red spicy drink is popular in the major cities in Ghana, especially during the dry season (Christmas falls in the dry season). It is loved by Ghanaians and is served at social gatherings including weddings, funerals, and birthday celebrations.
The beverage is brewed from hibiscus leaves and infused with ginger and pineapple to add a little bit of sweetness and spice. Also known as bissap, sobolo is best served cold either by refrigeration or adding ice cubes.
7. Palm Wine
Palm wine is popular in the south and coastal areas of Ghana due to the abundance of palm trees in the region. The drink is delicious, especially when freshly tapped, and is enjoyed at most ceremonies in Ghana and across West Africa.
Though many prefer it fresh, others allow it to ferment so they can enjoy its alcoholic content. Palm wine is best served warm and can accompany fufu and banku-based dishes.
Pito is to northern Ghana what palm wine is to the south. This is because the north is rich in sorghum and millet – the primary constituents of the beverage.
Pito has a sweet flavor when brewed fresh but can become sharp when allowed to ferment. It can be taken as an accompaniment to any food or as a refreshing drink.
9. Chocolate Drink
This refreshing drink is made from the powder of cocoa and is loved by children during Christmas. Also known as cocoa drink, it is mostly sweetened with sugar and milk.
The drink is served ice-cold and is a perfect accompaniment to rice-based dishes.
Brukina is a smoothie made from millet and dense milk. It is mostly eaten as a meal as one can be full with just 5ml! Brukina is popular in the southern part of Ghana and consumed throughout the whole year. Also, known as Burkina, the drink is served cold and is served during Christmas festivities.
Ghanaians love their snacks, which are mostly sold on the streets. These finger foods are less expensive and enjoyed by people from all walks of life.
Most snacks are deep-fried and are eaten with some of the drinks mentioned above. During Christmas, families prepare these snacks and drinks to welcome visitors who have come to celebrate the holidays.
11. Fries or Chips
This is the Ghanaian version of french fries made from wheat flour instead of potatoes. They are prepared by mixing the flour with butter and other ingredients of choice and deep-frying them.
The result is a crispy and salty finger food that matches perfectly with sobolo or any of the sugary fizzy drinks available during Christmas.
Some people package the fries, popularly referred to as chips in Ghana, as a gift for their friends and family. Some also prefer to bake the chips instead of frying them but the work and cost involved are on the high side, thus most prefer to fry them.
12. Plantain Chips
A very popular delicacy, plantain chips is prepared by slicing, salting, and frying plantain, a tropical fruit popular across West Africa.
It comes in two varieties: unripe and ripe plantain. This tasty snack is best enjoyed with sobolo, as its saltiness is the perfect foil for the sweet-sharp tastes of the popular beverage.
13. Meat Pie
Meat pie is a pastry filled with minced meat, onions, and green bell pepper. It goes perfectly with any of the local drinks described above. First, the flour is mixed with butter, yeast, and a small amount of water and made into a dough. The dough is then left to rise after which it is flattened with a rolling pin and sliced to a preferred shape and size.
The dough is then filled with minced meat and vegetables and then the pastry is baked in the oven till it turns golden brown or becomes flaky. Some prefer a fish filling, but then it is called fish pie.
In Ghana, the Christmas period lasts for about a week – 24th to 31st December and these foods are enjoyed on different days of the Christmas week. Some people to prepare and share these foods with friends and neighbors as a sign of goodwill, while others invite friends and relatives over for the yuletide. Christmas is really big in this country and most Ghanaians won’t want to celebrate it anywhere else.
Related: Most Popular Foods in Ghana