Akan cuisine, the cuisine of the Akan people, includes meat and fish (seafood) grilled over hot coals, wide and varied range of soups, stews, several kinds of starch foods, groundnut, palm, patties (or empanadas), ground corn (maize), sadza, ugali.
Akan cuisine is influenced by the abundance of produce from the sea on one side and the fertile Brong Ahafo on the other. The river and forest nature of the Akan territory (Akanland) within Ghana has led to a difference between Akan coastal cuisine dominated by fish and seafood, and inland Akan cuisine with fresh and cured meats, many vegetables and starch foods, and freshwater fish and tilapia, and the Jamaican and Portuguese influence is strong in Akan cuisine.
Akans have also been quick to absorb new ingredients and techniques from the Akan diaspora and from their own trade and exploration links. When Akans began to trade with the Portuguese in the 16th century AD, they developed the appetite for a variety of freshwater fish and incorporated freshwater fish into the Akan cuisine. The Coromantee, an amalgamation of several Akan groups of Jamaiaca departed the Gold Coast in the 17th century AD, in which the similarity between Akan and Jamaican cuisine is rooted. Akans embraced the potato and the capsicum, used in hams, sausages and recipes, with pepper festivals around Akan settlements, notably Akan festival; Akwasidae festival and Adae Kese festival.
Ways of eating
In addition to the dishes and products of Akans, there are features of the way of preparing and sharing food unique to Akanland.
For instance fufuo in Akan or fufu a special kind of starch food eaten with soup. Originally, fufuo was made of yams. Although yams are still used, most fufuo cooked in Akan territories is now made with a combination of plantain (cooking banana) and cassava. The cassava is too soft alone, and the plantain is too hard. Together they do well when cooked. Pounding of fufuo in Akan territories is done by first the yam (or combination of plantain and cassava) is boiled. Then a mortar and pestle are used to pound the fufuo. A single person can make a small amount of fufuo, pounding it with one hand and turning with another. The starch changes its chemical composition because of the pounding; it agglutinates. It is not to be chewed or tasted. The taste comes from the soup with which it is eaten. Mouth sized bites are broken off by fingers of the right hand from the ball of fufuo in the bowl, swished around in the soup, inserted into the mouth and swallowed whole.
- Omo Tu
A popular Akan starch based on imported basmati rice is Omo Tu or Tue (rice balls) the size and shape of cannon balls. When the rice is cooked, it is allowed to become sticky so that it can be formed into balls. It is eaten in a manner similar to fufuo, with soup. It is not pounded.
Nkontumire literally greens. It is also used as the name of the stew (floe), composed of boiled then chopped or Mediterranean puréed greens, sauteed with onions, some tomatoes perhaps, oil and smoked fish. Chili peppers are used for some spice, varied by taste. The dish is often nicknamed "Palaba Sauce," the word "palaba" derived from "palaver" from the Akan Portuguese era, meaning a discussion or a case to settle.
New Akan Cuisine
In the 1990s and early 2000s Akan chefs were influenced by the haute cuisine of France and created the haute cuisine akan, radically original in its form but solidly Akan in substance, with lighter and less rustic versions of traditional soup dishes and flavours.
- Akan soups
The soup to eat with fufuo, is "complete" in Akan culture if it has some animal each from the sky, the earth and from water. Chicken usually is accepted for something from the sky. In rural areas in Akan territories, wild birds in Akanland, such as toucan, are caught by young Akan men and end up on the Akan soup. Fish or freshwater prawns (crayfish), or something from the sea if available, serves for something from the water. The earth can provide something from the bush, such as snails, deer, or domestic animals such as sheep or goat. Vegetables almost always include tomatoes, onions and chili pepper. For stews, spinach is often used, and the crushed seeds of agushi, a melon related to watermelon, or black-eyed peas. Smoked fish is popular in Akan stews.
Light soup (nkrakra) does not have the heavy oil in it and is often fed to people who are ill. Onions, tomatoes and chilli peppers are common to all the soups. In Akan culture; the perfect soup will have a representative meat from the three elements of the universe (from the land, the air and water). Chicken serves for that from the air. Snails from Akan rain forest are most popular from the earth, but goats or bush meat (deer or grass cutters) can be used. Fish can be from the local rivers in Akanland or the Afram lake in Eastern Akanland, but is more commonly brought from the ocean. Any of the meat can be fresh or smoked, but smoked is favoured.
International Akan cuisine
Akan cuisine has continued to have an influence on international cuisine, particularly in Central and South America. Fufuo was created by the Akans and originated from Akanland, where it is pronounced "fufuo". The word fufu comes from the Akan language. It is a staple food of the Akans. It is eaten with light Akan (tomato) soup, palm nut soup, groundnut (peanut) soup (called nkatikwan in Akan), abenkwan (palm nut) soup or other types of Akan soups made with a variety of vegetables and other ingredients, such as nkontomire (cocoyam leaves). Akan soups are often made with different kinds of meat and fish, fresh or smoked. Fufu is a popular dish in the Caribbean and the nations with populations of African origin, such as Cuba (Cuban cuisine), the Dominican Republic (Dominican Republic cuisine), Haiti (Haitian cuisine), and Puerto Rico (Puerto Rican cuisine), plantains or yams are mashed and then other ingredients are added. In Cuba, the dish retains its original African name, or is also known as fufú de platano. In the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, the dish is described as mangú and mofongo.
- Pannu (Akan murrens)
- Bodo (Akan zopfs)
- Kɔkɔ a y'ato (Charcoal roasted ripe plantain)
- Smoked fish
- Toucan (wild bird)
- Fufuo (Fufu)
- Whitebait (freshwater fish)
- Grass cutters
- Grilled and roasted meats and chickens
- Peanuts from Ashanti
- Black-eyed peas from Brong Ahafo
- Onions from Western Akanland
- Peppers from Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central Akanland and Eastern Akanland
- Melons and Watermelon from Western Akanland
- Purée from Western Akanland
- Beans from Brong Ahafo
- Sprouts from Eastern Akanland
- Mango from Brong Ahafo
- Carrots from Brong Ahafo
- Sweetcorn from Ashanti
- Berries from Eastern Akanland
- Cassava from Central Akanland
- Cherries from Western Akanland
- Spinach from Eastern Akanland
- Pineapple from Western Akanland
- Chili pepper from Ashanti
- Tomato from Brong Ahafo
- Cheese from Eastern Akanland
- Okra from Ashanti
- Mushroom from Eastern Akanland
- Avocado from Western Akanland
- Grapes from Western Akanland
- Oranges from Ashanti
- Apples from Ashanti
- Calabash from Brong Ahafo
- Eggs from Eastern Akanland
- Palm oil from Ashanti
- Palm kernel from Ashanti
- Jacob's Creek (wine)
- Pito (cider)
- Palm wine (Akan wine)
- Grain milk (milk substitute)
- Burgundy wine (wine)
- Agya Appiah (Akan herbal drink)
- Stella Artois (cider)
- "Akan Customs and Traditions". Retrieved 15 November 2012.
- Akua, Nana; Opokuwaa, Kyerewaa (2005). Akan Protocol: Remembering the Traditions of Our Ancestors. iUniverse. ISBN 978-1-4759-2048-2.
- City University of New Kwasi Konadu Assistant Professor of History Center for Ethnic Studies (2010). The Akan Diaspora in the Americas. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-974538-8.
- J. B. Danquah (1952), "The Culture of Akan", Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (University of Missouri) ISBN 1-71461-749-0
- Meyerowitz, Eva L. R., Akan Traditions of Origin, London, c. 1950.
- Kwaku Effah Gyamfi; University of Calgary. Dept. of Archaeology (1985). Bono Manso: an archaeological investigation into early Akan urbanism. University of Calgary Press. ISBN 0-919813-27-5.