Flavored Oils

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

Flavored oils are used in Ghana as a condiment that can be drizzled over starches, stews, or cooked cowpeas. It is similar to the way Fulbe cattle herders in Mauritania, Mali, and Northern Senegal use the oil butter nebam sirme. This spicy condiment can be made with a light-colored oil (like canola, safflower, or peanut) or the classic carotene-rich red palm oil. It reminds me of Asian chili oil made with sesame oil (sesame is originally from Africa) but with an African touch. Easy and quick to make, this might be just the perfect holiday gift for that African gourmand on your list.


  • Several hot chili peppers of your choice (in Ghana I use my favored kpakpo shito peppers; see pepper heat chart)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil of your choice
  • ½ cup sliced or coarsely chopped onion, plus a few extra slices
  • 1 teaspoon ground or grated fresh ginger (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground red pepper (or to taste)



  1. Wash the chili peppers, slice off the stem ends, then cut them up or make slits in them. It is not necessary to remove the seeds.
  2. Heat a small skillet on the stove for 2 minutes, add the oil and a few slices of onion and cook, stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove the browned onion.
  3. Add the ½ cup sliced or coarsely chopped onion, the fresh chili peppers, ginger, and dried ground red pepper. Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes, pressing down on the chili peppers as they cook to help release their oils, and stirring occasionally.
  4. Strain the mixture twice into a measuring cup or bowl—once to remove the large pieces of pepper and ginger, and then a second time with a fine tea strainer to remove the dregs.
  5. Store in a glass jar.

To serve

These oils are nice drizzled over cooked cowpeas Pureed Black-eyed Peas (Adayi), Stewed Bambara Beans (Aboboe), Ghanaian Basic Tomato Gravy, and almost any Ghanaian starch, from gari to ampesi.