16 common spices in Ghana: local names and uses
Apart from her historical heritage, extraordinary scenic beauty, and rich cultural diversity, Ghana is also home to some of the best range of dishes served in either international restaurants or street stalls. The country’s delicacies are simple yet flavourful. Several spices in Ghana contribute to these sumptuous meals adding outstanding health benefits.
Part of the secret behind Ghana’s delicious meals is their spices. Virtually every home in the country has a range of spices, including chili pepper, thyme, ginger cayenne, and bay leaf, which are used as seasonings. While some are stored by smoking, some others are through drying, freezing, salting, and roasting. The health benefits of these spices are part of what makes them essential ingredients in every meal. For instance, African bird pepper makes your chicken cuisine hot and helps lower blood pressure. This is why knowledge of different spices in the country and their uses can impact how you prepare your meals, no doubt. How to prepare beans stew (Ghanaian red-red) List of local spices in Ghana The list does not include processed spices like Maggie cubes and Onga, which are common to many Ghanaians. Most local names of spices come from prominent languages such as Twi, Ga, and Fante. So, efforts have been made to mention some herbs and their Twi names. Check out the list of Ghana’s common herbs and spices below: READ ALSO: Top 10 Ghanaian Food Recipes That Will Make You Proud Of Your Heritage
Cloves are known as Dadoa Amba or Pepre in Twi, or Mbrego Amba in Fante. They add a burst of flavour to foods while aiding digestion. Cloves have several health benefits, including:
Protection of the liver;
Prevention of mutation;
Enhancement of the immune system;
Improvement of oral health, and Curing of respiratory infections, headaches, and relieving stress
2. Anise seeds
Known as Osu kon in Ga and Nkitinkiti in Twi, consumption of anise seeds helps improve digestion, reduce nausea, and alleviate cramps. The seeds contain thymol, terpineol, and anethole, which are good at relieving coughs. They can also relieve bloating, constipation, and stomach gas when taken in tea after meals.
Basil is known as Akuko Besa in Twi. The herb is an antidepressant that is also used for stress reduction, depression, and anxiety. It helps to maintain good health and general well-being of a person. Basil is commonly used in tea and may be added to soups or vegetables.
4. Negro pepper
Negro pepper is called Hwentia or Ahentia in Twi and Soh in Ga. It also goes by the names Senegal pepper, Ethiopian pepper, and Moor pepper. The spice has medicinal uses due to its microbial properties. When used sparingly, it gives a nutmeg-like taste and a bitter taste when taken in excess. The spice is best used in soups, stews, and in cornmeal porridge.
5. West African black pepper
The spice is known as Esoro Wisa in Twi and Wie Din in Ga. Interestingly, the pepper’s leaves can be eaten. In terms of hotness, the pepper is not as hot as other peppers like the African bird pepper. When used in minimal quantities, it has a clove-like flavour in soups, stews, and cornmeal porridge. Also, it increases appetite while reducing constipation and indigestion in the body.
6. African bird pepper
African bird pepper or chilli is scientifically known as Akweley Waabiin in Ga and Misewain in Twi. It can also be called Piri-piri, Malagueta pepper, or African Devil. The taste of this chilli is very hot and is suitable for spicy foods. Medicinally, African black pepper is used for enemas. It reduces blood pressure, helps in the digestion of foods by stimulating peristalsis, breaks up phlegm, and eases stomach upsets.
7. Guinea pepper
Also called Grains of Paradise, alligator pepper, and Melegueta pepper, guinea pepper is known as Efom Wisain or Efom Wisa in Twi, Wire Tsuruin in Ga, and Essa in Nzema. The spice has a characteristic pungent flavour, and medicinally, it is used for its anti-microbial and aphrodisiac properties.
8. African nutmeg
African nutmeg or Calabash nutmeg is known as Wedie Abain and Awerewain in Twi. It can reverse liver toxicity induced by high cholesterol diets and exerts a hypercholesterolemic effect. Cloves health benefits and side effects
9. Turkey berry
Turkey berry is known as Abeduruin or Kwahu Nsosuain in Twi. It is also known as wild eggplant or prickly nightshade. Its other local names are Kwanwu nsosuaa, Kantɔsi, and Abeduru. The leaves of turkey berry are rich in iron and vitamin C, making it suitable for pregnant women.
10. African locust bean
African locust bean is known as Dawadawa in Twi. The spice contains the minerals riboflavin and thiamine. Also, it helps to promote good sight and rids off hypertension and disease conditions like stroke and diabetes.
When burnt in a coal pot like incense, it gives off a sweet aroma. Some say that Aridan is a symbol of power, while others claim that it increases the quality of baby milk in lactating mothers. It also increases their blood flow and eliminates blood clots. At the same time, it possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Uses of parsley leaves in Ghana
Dried or smoked fish such as prawns or crayfish are ground into a powder and used as a seasoning in spinach stew. The result is commonly known as Nkontomire, or a beans stew locally known as Aboboi.
Potash, otherwise called Potassium Carbonate (K2CO3), is locally known as Kanwu or Kaawe. Besides its chemical use in industries, it is used in preparing Waakye, which is a mush of rice with beans. The local spice is also a salt substitute and serves as a food thickener and tenderizer. You may also use food-grade quality potash to increase the pH of wine. READ ALSO: Ghanaian foods that take the pain away
14. Waakye leaves
Waakye is the local name for sun-dried leaves or stalks of red sorghum. When added to food, it adds a red colouring that is appealing to the eye.
15. Unripe pawpaw
Unripe pawpaw is diced and added to meat to tenderize it. The enzyme papain is responsible for this. You may also marinate the meat with the pulp before cooking. Ginger benefits for men
The spice has a strong flavour and brings warmth to dishes, along with a hint of subtle sweetness. Whether it is used fresh, dried or as an oil, it has significant health benefits. It helps to fight bacteria, reduce inflammation, and is as well rich in antioxidants, which are compounds that help fight damage from harmful free radicals in the body.