Banku: A fermented delight from Ghana’s kitchen

Stories and facts

In Ghanaian cuisine, banku and akple are popular dishes made from a slightly fermented mixture of maize and cassava doughs, formed into single-serving balls.

Banku, characterized by its smooth, whitish paste, is cooked in hot water and typically served with soup, okra stew, or a pepper sauce accompanied by fish.

Akple, on the other hand, is favored by the people of southern Ghana, including the Ewe, Fante, and Ga-Dangme communities. The Ga-Dangme people enjoy a softer version of banku, while the Fante have a drier variant known as ɛtsew.

The term "banku" originates from the Ga-Dangme language, derived from the phrase "ba mi ku," which means "food in leaves." Historically, banku was stored in leaves, leading to the evolution of the term. The Ga-Dangme language also features similar terms, such as "inku" for pomade and "ashanku" for a type of plantain fritter called Tatale.

The main ingredients for preparing banku are corn flour, cassava, salt, and water, similar to those used for akple. The preparation process begins with peeling and chopping cassava, which is then mixed with corn grains and soaked for a day.

After soaking, the water is drained, and the cassava and maize are milled into a smooth, fine, and wet dough, which is left to ferment for two to five days, depending on the temperature.

The fermented dough is mixed with water and boiled, with continuous stirring until it becomes dough-like again. The mixture is then kneaded until smooth, and water is added to almost cover the dough.

It is then covered and allowed to boil, ensuring even cooking and steaming. This process of kneading, watering, and cooking is repeated until the dough is soft and evenly cooked, after which it is portioned into small balls.

Traditionally, banku and akple are eaten with hands. Akple is usually paired with okro soup, known as Fetri Detsi among the Ewes, but can also be served with soup, stew, or pepper sauce, often accompanied by meat or fish.



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