West African Culture

Exploring West African Christmas Food and Traditions

Rooted in rich cultural diversity, West African Christmas celebrations are marked by vibrant traditions, community gatherings, and, of course, a delectable array of festive foods.  We share with you below just a few of the unique flavours and traditions that make a West African Christmas so special.

Jollof Rice – The Heart of the Feast
No West African celebration is complete without the iconic Jollof rice. This one-pot dish, featuring fragrant rice cooked with tomatoes, onions, and an assortment of spices, takes centre stage on Christmas tables. Variations of Jollof rice exist across the region, with each country adding its own twist. Nigerians might include a spicy pepper blend, whereas in Ghana we favour a smoky flavour from cooking over an open flame, and Senegalese Jollof might showcase a prominent use of fish.

Suya – Grilled Delight
Another Christmas favourite is Suya, a flavourful and spicy grilled meat dish. Typically made with thinly sliced beef or chicken, the meat is marinated in a blend of groundnuts (peanuts), pepper, and other spices before being skewered and grilled to perfection. Suya is a popular street food that finds its way to festive gatherings during the holiday season, adding a smoky and spicy kick to the festivities.

Waakye is a beloved Ghanaian dish made with rice, black eyed beans and millet stalk leaves which give it a distinct reddish-brown colour. It’s often served with a variety of accompaniments, including fried fish, spaghetti, boiled eggs, and a spicy pepper sauce.

Banku with Grilled Tilapia
Banku, a fermented corn and cassava dough, is a popular dish paired with grilled tilapia during Christmas celebrations. The combination of the soft banku and the smoky flavour of grilled tilapia creates a festive and delicious meal.

This spicy and sweet street food is a Christmas favourite in Ghana. Kelewele consists of fried plantains seasoned with a blend of spices, including ginger, cloves, and sometimes pepper. It’s a flavourful and aromatic snack enjoyed during the holiday season.

Bofrot (Puff-Puff)
Bofrot, also known as Puff-Puff, is a favourite sweet treat in many West African countries, especially during festive seasons. These small, round, deep-fried dough balls are sweetened with sugar and can have a slightly crispy exterior while remaining soft and fluffy on the inside.

Beyond the sumptuous feasts, West African Christmas traditions are deeply rooted in family and community. Families come together to celebrate, exchanging gifts, attending church services, and partaking in lively music and dance. The vibrant colours of traditional attire, such as the iconic Ankara fabrics, add to the festive atmosphere. A West African Christmas is a colourful celebration of culture, community, and culinary delights.

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