Waakye (My Big Fat Ghanian Breakfast)


Accra, 2013, 6 a.m.: The scrawny Rooster strangles his voice and my sleep with his fuss. Mercy's broom has already begun switching away last night's dreams. I hear my uncle scurrying out the screen door headed for the waakye stall across the street on the corner of Palace Street, North Kaneshie—his first breakfast beckons. Waayke (pronounced WAH-chay). The ludicrously extravagant breakfast that is sold on street corners in a plastic bag or wrapped in a plantain leaf puts any UK street food and even some brunch menus to shame.

Waakye breakfast
Photo: Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Prop Styling by Christina Daley / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey
Active Time:
2 hrs 20 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 40 mins


For the Goat Stew

  • 1 pound boneless goat shoulder or mutton shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

  • 1 teaspoon Guinea pepper (also known as grains of Selim)

  • 1 teaspoon grains of paradise (also known as alligator pepper seed)

  • 3 cups chopped red onion (from 2 medium onions), divided

  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (from a 2-inch piece), divided

  • 2 small red bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped (3 cups)

  • 1 pound plum tomatoes (4 total) or vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (3 cups)

  • 1 small fresh Scotch bonnet chile, halved and seeded

  • ½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons. peanut oil, divided

  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pimentón de la Vera (Spanish smoked paprika) or Hungarian smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon corn flour (such as Bob's Red Mill)

  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • ¾ cup water

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

  • ¼ teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

  • teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1 pinch of ground nutmeg

  • 1 pinch of ground cinnamon

  • 1 pinch of ground ginger

  • 1 tablespoon dried ground crayfish or prawn/shrimp powder (such as JEB Foods)

  • ½ cup canned tomato sauce (from 8-oz. can)

  • .6666 cup chicken stock

For the Rice

  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice, such as basmati

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

  • 3 - 4 dried millet or sorghum leaves, such as Beanie Designs, or 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 fresh Anaheim chiles or Thai chiles, unseeded and thinly sliced on an angle

  • 1 ¼ cup drained and rinsed canned black-eyed peas (from 15.5-oz. can)

  • 1 pinch of kosher salt

  • 4 ¼ best quality chicken stock (such as College Inn Culinary Stock)

For serving, your choice of any/all of the following:

  • 2 soft-cooked eggs, peeled and halved

  • Finely chopped fresh chives

  • Toasted sesame seeds

  • Sliced avocadoes

  • Shito hot pepper sauce (such as Adepa)

  • Fresh green Thai chiles, unseeded and thinly sliced 

  • Fresh cilantro leaves


Prepare the Stew

  1. Remove goat from refrigerator. Toss goat with 1 teaspoon of the salt in a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 25 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, grind Guinea pepper pods in a mortar and pestle; remove grains and discard any pods. Toast Guinea pepper and grains of paradise in a small skillet over medium, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. With a mortar and pestle, grind Guinea pepper mixture to a coarse powder. Add 1 cup of the onion and 1 teaspoon of the fresh ginger; grind and smash into smooth juicy paste. Set spice paste aside.

  3. Process red bell peppers, plum tomatoes, Scotch bonnet chile, 1 cup of the onions, 1 teaspoon of the fresh ginger, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth, about 45 seconds; set aside.

  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or medium Dutch oven over medium. Add goat and sear, turning occasionally, until lightly browned on all sides, about 12 minutes. While goat cooks, stir together garlic, brown sugar, paprika, corn flour, and turmeric in a small bowl. Reduce heat to low. Add garlic mixture to goat, and stir to coat goat in garlic mixture. Add water, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits. Cover and steam over low until meat juices run clear, about 20 minutes. (You should not hear water bubbling vigorously while steaming goat.) Uncover pan and transfer the contents of the pot to a medium bowl. Wipe pan clean.

  5. Heat remaining 1/2 cup oil in same pan over medium. Add cayenne pepper and remaining 1 cup onion and 1 teaspoon fresh ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are brown around the edges, about 6 minutes. Add allspice, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground ginger, and stir to coat onion mixture in spice mixture. Stir in ground Guinea pepper spice paste. Return seared goat along with drippings to pan and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir crayfish powder into goat mixture. Add processed bell pepper mixture, tomato sauce, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer over medium-high. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring and scraping bottom of pan occasionally, until goat is tender, sauce thickens, and stew darkens in color, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Prepare the Rice

  1. Place rice in a medium bowl, add water to cover, and swirl rice with your hand. Drain through a fine mesh strainer; return rice to bowl. Repeat process until water is clear when swirled with rice. Heat a large, heavy saucepan over medium. Add coconut oil and yellow onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly browned around the edges, about 6 minutes.

  2. While onions cooks, swiftly rinse dried millet leaves under water because the color will start to run as soon as they get wet; cut into 3-inch pieces.

  3. Add sliced chiles, black-eyed peas, millet leaves or baking soda, salt, and drained rice to onion mixture in pan, and stir to coat each grain of rice in oil. Stir in stock and bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 12 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand, covered, until water is absorbed and rice is very tender, 8 to 12 minutes.

  4. Serve the stew ladled over the rice. Top with eggs, chives, sesame seeds, avocado slices, Shito hot pepper sauce, chiles, and cilantro, if desired. If you eat this for breakfast we'll make a Ghanaian out of you yet!

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