How to prepare waakye

Rice and beans is a popular and cheap combination for a meal in different cultures. Ghanaian waakye is the country’s version of this combination. This humble dish, which is eaten any time of the day is cooked with red sorghum leaf sheath, known as “waakye leaves”, which gives it a reddish-brown colour.

Waakye is one of the most popular street foods in Ghana. Many families buy waakye from a popular street vendor rather than cook it at home, most likely due to the long time in preparation.

Waakye is a dish originally from the Northern part of Ghana. Traditionally it is just white rice cooked with black eye beans and waakye leaves which gives it a reddish or brownish color.


Waakye in Ghana is mostly sold by street side vendors, wrapped in leaves or in white rubber bag and served with multiple of the the following sides; lamb stew, spaghetti (talia), avocado, shito (fish sauce), kelewele (fried plantain), fried fish, garri fotor, vegetable salad, egg, meat or fish.

Waakye makes the perfect “fully loaded plate” of food. It can be a complete meal because of the different accompaniments. It is also popular in other West African countries, but just called different names. On the streets of Lagos in Nigeria, it is called “wanke”, while the Togolese call it “ayimolou”.

How to prepare Waakye


  • Rice
  • Black eye beans
  • Waakye leaves
  • Baking soda/Kaun
  • Salt 


  1. Wash the beans and soak it overnight. If you are pressed with time, soak for at least 30 minutes. Soaking the beans helps get rid of the gas that is normally found in beans. 
  2. Strain the water that was used to soak the beans and put the beans into a cooking pot and add the waakye leaves, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 3 cups of water and stir well.
  3. Cover the pot and cook the beans for about 8 minutes until the beans are halfway done. 
  4. After 8 minutes, wash the rice and add it to the beans and waakye leaves and add 3 cups of water and salt.
  5. Stir well, cover and cook for 10 minutes. 
  6. After 10 minutes, take out the waakye leaves and fluff the rice with a fork, then cover and let it cook for another 10 minutes. 
  7. With a fork, fluff the rice again, then cover it with a paper towel and cook until the rice is soft.
  8. If you prefer your waakye very soft just add more water. About 1 cup of water. 
  9. Serve with tomato stew or shito, fried fish, boiled eggs, gari, spaghetti and shito on the size.

What is the English name for waakye?

The word waakye is from the Nigerian Hausa language and means beans. It is the contracted form of the full name shinkafa da wake which means rice and beans.

Why add baking soda/kaun to waakye?

Baking soda or Kaun is essential in this recipe because, it makes the beans cook faster and softer. It also darkens the rice.


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It is believed that the Hausa and the Northern ethnic groups of Ghana are the best cooks of waakye. In Ghana, waakye is one popular food that no one wants to miss. You can cook waakye in your home by following the recipes in this artice, or you can also buy from vendors across the country.

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