Tuesday, 16 February 2016

A food guide for foodies in Tamale, Ghana

Should you stumble across this blog in the hopes of finding some information about Tamale, then this is your lucky day (I am sure you have been searching for some time). While Tamale is a vibrant city, it pays to know where to find what you want.
We thought that we would focus on a food guide for this week’s blog as we are preparing to go into the communities to conduct our community mapping. The blog is going to be about life in Tamale for the ICS volunteer as opposed to be about the project.
So let’s begin with a small introduction to local Ghanaian dishes. You are more than likely to experience Banku, Fufu and TZ. These are staple dishes that can be found at every street corner:
·         Banku – Banku is made from Maize and cassava dough
·         Fufu - Fufu is made from yam, cassava and plantain
·         TZ – TZ is made from Maize and Konkonte flour.
Fufu takes two very strong individual to make it (believe me many of the UKVs have tried with little to no success). You place all the ingredients in a gigantic pestle and mortar and begin to pound it with an 8ft wooden pounding stick. In between pounding it the second person has to turn it to ensure the consistency is right. It is a job that requires a lot of skills but it is worth trying to learn it as your arms will have a good work out!
Banku and TZ are made slightly differently they require vigorous stirring as oppose to pounding. TZ seems to be softer then Banku whilst Banku has a sour, fermented taste but TZ has a more neutral taste.
All these gluey dough balls are dishes that you swallow but do not chew – Be aware do not attempt to chew; you will live to regret it. All of these dishes come with different soups – We are still trying to figure out what is in the soups but so far we have discovered Fufu comes with a tomato based soup with one or two pieces of meat and TZ comes with a slimy Okra soup. All the soups are usually cooked to include fish despite Tamale being landlocked, fish is imported in vast quantities and is sold from huge baskets in the market forming giant mounds of dried, cured fish.
It seems that the main reason fish plays such a vital role in Ghanaian cuisine is because it aids in maintaining a balanced diet. Fish has protein and essential vitamins that you just cannot get from any other locally sourced food item. Because the food is invariable with balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats etc. the food has to be boosted somehow – thus the need for using canned or dried fish.
‘Baby rice’ – this is by far one of the best dishes we have discovered in the Northern region of Ghana. It is boiled rice served with an omelette and a tomato based chilli sauce... Simple yet delicious! Second in line is ‘Waakye’ this is bean and rice stew accompanied by Shito sauce. Shito sauce is a dry spicy sauce made from oil, chilli, tomato past and salt. It really does add the flavour to it.
Plantain chips, fried plantain, or plantain popcorn (however, this has caused some uproar between the ICVs and UKVs in the office as it is officially called kelewele. yes this is the correct spelling). Is one of the best snacks you can get in Ghana for a decent price of 2 Cedi or in GBP 32p!
If, as a UK volunteer you are in Tamale for some time and you find yourself craving Western food we have come up with a list to fit different budgets and tastes (or so we hope)!
Chucks – Owned by two Swedish men this place is the real deal! It not only has an amazing array of pizza it also has a wood fire oven to cook the pizzas in! The pizzas are big enough to share between two so this makes the 50 Cedi for once pizza more reasonable. We would also recommend trying the chicken fried rice and peri-peri chicken. It is out of this world! The ambience is defiantly worth a mention, it makes you forget you are in busy Tamale, the fairy lights and the pet dogs make you feel like you have never left home.
Swad – Is an outdoor restaurant with a relaxed feel, each table is covered by little straw huts (however the huts are able to seat up to 10 guests). This place is great because it is inclusive of all budgets and it serves a variety of cuisines however, it is renowned for its Indian dishes as it is one of the few places in Tamale that has an Indian chef! We would also recommend the authentic samosas and BONLESS chicken curry! A curry which again you could share with two people with ease costs around 25 Cedis including rice, and the samosas are 9.50 Cedis for two that are both about the size of your palm. Now that’s a meal deal if ever we have seen one!
Taco Rabama Pizza House - What can we say great music, great food and a great non-alcoholic drink selection. The large pizza is larger than life and comes with many different toping including real pepperoni which you will soon understand is hard to come by. Taco Rabama and Chucks are close competitors in both pizzas and price however the drink selection goes beyond a coke and fruit juice in Taco Rabama.
There are also some cheaper alternatives where you can get great local food, cheaper non-alcoholic drinks and even our dearly beloved coffee!
·         Quatro, can be found in the Cultural Centre which is very close to crest. They offer the local beer club and star as well as some local ciders –We would also recommend trying Alvaro. It is a non-alcoholic sparkling drink – which has three flavours, pear, passion fruit and pineapple. 

·         Woodens can be located on the infamous Bulga Road, it has a gigantic coffee machine with a steamer. Not only do they serve Illey coffee they also serve a selection of cakes including chocolate brownies! This joint should not only satisfy your coffee cravings but also your sweet tooth!

·         Crest – great music and sausage kebabs and a wide range of soft drinks, it is an extra cedi or two per drink but it does come with a flushing toilet when the water permits it to!
We hope this gives you a little insight of what to expect food wise. Tamale is a very vibrant and welcoming place to live in so we are sure you will be able to feel right at home here. With the help of locals you will be able to discover many more places to add to this list!

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