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21 Deliciously Warming West African Dishes You Should Be Eating This Winter

November's Ghana be tasty.

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1. Jollof rice

Every West African country has its own version of this golden dream, but it basically comes down to being a tomatoey rice dish with lots of good, hot pepper and ground fish powder. And no, it tastes nothing like paella. Recipe here.

2. Puff puffs

Deep-fried, hot, sugary doughnuts. Enough said. Recipe here.

3. Cassava patties

Nothing says autumn like steaming potato cakes, and cassava patties are infinitely sweeter and more delicious. Dip in some spicy pepper sauce and you're away. Recipe here.

4. Kelewele and groundnuts

Hot, crispy plantain on a plate of pan-fried peanuts is the kind of snack given to kids in Ghana. Kids are discerning when it comes to delicious food. Recipe here.

5. Red red

This black-eyed-peas–based mush is as stodgy and comforting as it gets. Cooked in red palm oil and pepper, it's deceptively tasty – particularly the singed bits. Recipe here.
Charles Haynes / Flickr: haynes / Creative Commons

This black-eyed-peas–based mush is as stodgy and comforting as it gets. Cooked in red palm oil and pepper, it's deceptively tasty – particularly the singed bits. Recipe here.

6. Kenkey and sardines

Traditionally eaten for breakfast, this combo of protein and carb will get you going through those miserable November mornings. Kenkey is kind of like the dumpling-like, corn equivalent of sourdough and goes perfectly with any oily fish. You can buy it at any West African store, prewrapped in banana leaves and ready to heat in the microwave.

7. Potato greens plasas

This Sierra Leonean dish has a groundnut base and features potato leaves as well as bits of fish or chunks of meat. The Ghanaian version uses coco yam leaves – either could be replaced with spinach. Recipe here.

8. Superkanja

This Gambian soup is swimming in okra and its leaves. Okra is packed with all kinds of antioxidants and minerals ready to immunise you from all kinds of wintery bugs. Recipe here.

9. Ewa aganyin sauce

No dish is complete without a good pepper sauce. It's just blended dried chillies, onions, lots of palm oil, and seasoning like dried fish powder, but it'll add some sunshine to even the dullest of wintery meals. Recipe here.

10. Meat pies

Meat pies were made for winter living. Nigerian patties are pretty similar to Cornish pasties, apart from the fact that they are absolutely packed with mince meat and flavoured with Maggi cubes – which are a true gift from God. Recipe here.

11. Eddoe soup

This Liberian dish sees crushed cocoyams simmered in red palm oil and made into a smooth, thick paste and is perfect with or without meat. Recipe here.

12. Corned beef stew

This is the sort of food that was made for a rainy Thursday evening. It's simply corned beef fried with onions, tomatoes, and a stack of pepper. Just before the dish is served, an egg is cracked into the pan. Serve with some super fibrous yam and you're done. Sounds gross, tastes great. Recipe here.

13. Yoruba egusi soup

This Nigerian stew uses melon seeds (although these probably could be substituted for squash or gourd seeds), as well as spinach, fish, and beans. Proof that in West Africa, nothing goes to waste. Recipe here.

14. Thieboudienne

Like most West African dishes, this Senegalese offering is made from fish, rice, and tomato sauce. It's a one-pot kind of deal into which you can throw any vegetables you have to hand. Recipe here.

15. Fufu and light soup.

It's light, it's low calorie, and it's full of peppery, vitamin goodness. Light soup is basically a hot, tomatoey broth with ground fish powder and bits of meat or fish. Gooey fufu can divide opinion, but is as key to the Ghanaian diet as tea is to Brits. Recipe here.

16. Banga stew

This Nigerian dish uses palm fruits (nuts) rather than palm oil, meaning that it's packed with vitamin E, iron, vitamin B3, calcium, and potassium – to name but a few. In fact, this is all you need to ward off all evils. Recipe here.

17. Moi moi

This protein-rich bean pudding is made with a mixture of black-eyed peas, onions, and peppers. It's the perfect comfort food, not to mention vegetarian-friendly! Recipe here.

18. Nkatenkwen

Hands down, this is the ultimate winter winner. Groundnut soup is a thick, peanut-buttery stew packed with chicken and winter veg, with lashings of pepper. Mmm, peanut butter. Recipe here.

19. Asaro

Asaro is a traditional Yoruba yam porridge which basically involves boiling and smashing yams in a broth of red bell and scotch bonnet peppers, tomatoes, and oil. Imagine a kind of adult-baby-food...but in a good way. Recipe here.

20. Efo riro

This spinach stew uses blended crayfish and shredded white fish to create a kontomire-like sauce and can be used as a main meal or side sauce. Recipe here.

21. Ogbono soup

Ogbono is a species of trees which bear mango-like fruits. Their protein-rich nuts are ground to make this soup, alongside leafy vegetables and tomatoes. Recipe here.