Africa is home to both the legumes known as “cowpeas,” the most famous of which is the “black-eyed pea,” and a type of indigenous rice (Oryza glaberrima). The (Nigerian) Hausa word for “cowpea” is “wáákéé” or “wake,” and Hausa is spoken widely in northern Ghana. When rice is combined with wáákéé one has Ghana’s “waakye” (pronounced “WAAtchy”), a classic rice and beans dish that has spread throughout the country and beyond. It makes a great vegetarian meal by itself, and can be eaten for breakfast or lunch. In Ghana it is often sold at roadside stands, and is a filling, healthful, and relatively inexpensive meal.
Waakye is simple to make. In Ghana one often uses fresh or dried millet leaves (stalks), and kanwa (a mineral used to soften the beans), but baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can be substituted to give the waakye its characteristic color.
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