Thursday, 3 December 2015

8 Exotic Fruits To Try When In Ghana | #myghananostalgia

Ghana in West Africa, is a beautiful, sunny and friendly nation popularly known for her natural resources such as cocoa and gold. I also call her, a country of good fruits! The nostalgia for me is great indeed! This post is quite literally typed as I reflect on fruits in Ghana which I have eaten and miss! A lot of fruits I have memory of eating in Ghana are sadly not commonly found in the UK market. Some of those which are found, may have gone through some processing and "beautifying" before they arrive on the supermarket shelves. In this first post of my new #myghananostalgia series, I share my reflection on some great exotic fruits you should try should you ever visit Ghana, my motherland. I also tried my best to spell them in their native Twi or Ga names.
Ghanaian fruits Yvonne dzifa
Yvonne Dzifa | #myghananostalgia

As far as I can remember, the freshest and most affordable fruits and vegetables in ghana did not need the term "organic" written on some packing. For that term, was all what was really known! No packaging either! Like in most parts of Africa, a lot of fruits and vegetables are grown by local farmers without fear of "GM"! Surprisingly also, organic was really all there was. It isn't strange to see a group of cows having a stroll with their herdsman, or hens searching for good old earth food both in the cities and the villages. Don't get me wrong here though. Ghana has a lot of civilised areas with grand homes and neighbourhood especially in the cities, contrary to popular perception of African Countries! Local produce are the most affordable foods available to most of the people. It is almost like "processed food" is food for the fancy, whiles organic local produce is for the normal person. Simply put, western style foods such as pre-sliced neatly packaged supermarket bread or KFC, are so much more expensive compared to the bread you can buy from your next door neighbour, unsliced, freshly baked by hand non batch processed or packaged.

Velvet Tamarind (yccyi- pronounced youryi)
This fruit is one of the two main fruits I search for each time I go to Ghana. I believe they are only sold when in season. I love this fruit, commonly known as yccyi in ghana. It has a black velvet-like shell which looks a bit like a velvet suit! How it is eaten in Ghana is by cracking open each fruit, one by one and either peeling the orange coloured flesh from its seed and eating it. You can also pop the cracked fruit into your mouth and basically eating it down to the seed, making sure not to chew or swallow the seed. One thing to note though is that, some times these fruits do get borrowed into by tiny fruit worms therefore the advice is to peel the flesh from the seed before eating it.
velvet tamarind
Velvet Tamarind | Funke Koleosho Picture
velvet tamarind
Velvet Tamarind | Spice Baby Picture

Sugarcane (ashwidi3- pronounced ashwidieh)
Ahhh… a very sweet plant! This plant is what some refined sugars are made from. They are harvested as long, bendy sticks, taller that most people and then chopped up into good sizes. Sellers in the market tend to chop them up with machete-like cutters. Once at home, they would then be peeled with a sharp knife as the outer shell is quite tough. Peeling reveals a lovely cream coloured wood-like middle which is eaten by chewing on it to release the sweet juices!  After all the juices are out, the wood-like reminants are discarded and not swallowed! The sugarcane!
Sugarcane | Dieselpower Picture
Sugarcane | Oyinboafricanabeni Picture

One of the natural resources of Ghana and also one of its main exports, real cocoa fruit is another you should try when you visit Ghana.  Extra yummy though it my not look like it at first sight. The cocoa pod when ripen, is cracked open to reveal some lovely creamy fruits with beans in the middle. It is these beans which are dried and processed into cocoa powder and chocolates! However before the beans are dried, have a taste of the fruit itself! When I first tried it, I absolutely loved it! Not something we often see in the western countries but definitely a must try. Ghana equals Cocoa and Gold. Just don't eat the gold!
cocoa pod
Cocoa Pod | Montblancgourmt Picture
cocoa fruit
Cocoa Fruit | Cocofarmingpix Picture

African Star Apple (Alansa)
Well where can I start. This is the fruit I search for the most for when I visit Ghana. A lovely orange coloured fruit which most often than not, has 4 seeds in it. A very tasty fruit, however, it is a challenge to describe the texture. The skin is normally peels off to reveal the soft fruity juicy pulp which when chewed long enough, develops into a chewing gum like texture due to the sap. I sometimes have chewed the skin as well after a good clean! Sometimes sweet, sometimes sour, sometime a lovely combination of both! Either way, a very nice fruit to try. The one thing I remember loving about this fruit is the chewing gum texture after chewing it long enough. The seeds are also used to play some local board games! Talk about multi-purpose!
african star apple
African Star Apple | Lifenlivingit Picture
african star apple
African Star Apple | Davinadiaries Picture

Palm Nut (Ab3- pronounced Abeh)
The palm nut fruit is a great red oily fruit. Therefore it is more used in making soups in Ghana as opposed to eating it on its own. Infact, I have never eaten it raw or known anyone who has. Instead, this fruit is commonly boiled and then pounded with a Ghanaian "pestle and mortar" in order to release the oil and the fruit for soups such as palm nut soup. Palm nut soup is eaten with fufu or banku. The oils are primarily extracted from the pulp itself and this is called palm oil. Oil is also extracted from the kernel and this is called palm kernel oil. Until recently, I used palm oil a lot in making some Ghanaian stews. It is commonly used in West Africa as a whole for making West African Stews such as the Ghanaian Nkontomere stew. The palm nut tree is also commonly found in neighbourhood homes.
palm nut tree
Palm Nut Tree | Bongoman Picture
palm nut
Palm Nut | Memorablevacationsinghana Picture

Soursop (Aluguintugui)
The taste of soursop reminds me of the taste of cocoa fruit. I only really knew it as sweet apple as a child. Very tasty exotic fruit. A word of caution though, it is advised that the seeds are avoided as they may cause some neurological problems. One of those edible fruits with harmful seeds!
Soursop | Muhammad Mahdi Karim Picture

Pawpaw (bccfr3- pronounced boorfreh)
You may have already seen these fruits in the supermarket. Papaya, they are labelled, but I and most Ghanians you may ask have also known it to be called pawpaw. Their trees are commonly found in neighbourhood homes in Ghana. Typically, there are two groups of pawpaw lovers in Ghana. Those who love a very ripped, soft pawpaw and those who love a ripped but still firm pawpaw. I fall only in the latter group and I have family members who fall only in the first group. Either ways, pawpaws can be enjoyed as a lovey healthy snack whiles the seed are used by some adults as a purgative or for treatment of gut parasites.
pawpaw tree
Pawpaw Tree | CNN Picture
Pawpaw | Skinnygourmet Picture

And finally a not very uncommon coconut! I will be honest with you, for a long time, I have tried and not succeeded in drinking more than 3/4 of a glass of the coconut water sold in bottles in the supermarket. I blame this on the coconuts you see below. The thing is, I only ever knew and drunk this kind of coconut until I noticed the ones in the supermarket. I tried it and it never worked. I am sure if you tried coconut water from a coconut like those below, you might understand why. Coconut water is a very cheap and common snack to have in Ghana, along with coconut "meat". As you see below, you will typically find strong coconut sellers pulling the coconut cart. When stopped, you pick your coconut and they prepare it for you and cut it open. You then drink the water and then they crack open the shell and peel out the meat for you. Simples! Try and have this experience when you visit Ghana and let me know what you think of it.
coconut cart
Coconut | ryghter Picture

coconut seller
Coconut Seller | Nicholascudjoe Picture

This ends the first part of My Ghana Nostalgia Series! #myghananostalgia

Thanks for reading and don't forget to share if you enjoyed reading.

Yvonne Dzifa


  1. I wonder when I would get to visit Ghana :D, if I do Ill make sure to try the cocoa fruit!

  2. Sure thing, do let me know if you try them and how you like them! Hopefully one day you visit and I hope you like it! :-) thanks for reading and commenting. Much appreciated!


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