Rice and Beans


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes



Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

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.


  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and lightly rinsed or cups cooked black-eyed peas (for rice cooker recipe); or 1 cup dried black-eyed peas (for everyday recipe)
  • 1 cup white rice (washed if necessary)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon baking soda (a full teaspoon will make it darker)
  • ½ teaspoon salt


Directions for Rice Cooker

  1. Put the black-eyed peas, rice, oil, onion, baking soda, salt and 2 cups water in a rice cooker. Stir, cover, and cook until rice is tender, about 30 minutes (cooker will automatically stop when done). If the rice is still wet after it is cooked, remove the lid to release steam.

Directions for Everyday Waakye

  1. Rinse and pick over the black-eyed peas, then soak them for 4 hours covered with water. (Or use the quick method: bring black-eyed peas to a boil in a saucepan, let them boil for a couple of minutes and then sit covered for an hour, then proceed.)
  2. Drain off the water from the peas and add cups of fresh water to the saucepan, along with all the other ingredients. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the rice and beans are tender, about 45 minutes. Be careful not to burn the rice, and add a little more water if necessary as it cooks. If the rice and beans are tender, but water remains, remove the lid the last few minutes to allow the extra water to cook away.

To serve

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