Ghanaian Waakye

A plate of waakye and other sides

Pronounced waa-chay, waakye is a Ghanaian staple that’s popular both as street food and at home. Waakye is essentially white rice that is boiled with black eyed peas and sorghum leaves to give the dish its iconic burgundy colour. Baking soda is often added as well to enhance the colour of the rice. When sorghum leaves are not available, people use baking soda alone to achieve a similar reddish colour, though less intense. Waakye refers to the rice and beans alone but it is absolutely not the same without its iconic sides like plantain, spaghetti, gari, red stew, a side salad, shito and a boiled egg to go on top!

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1 ½
cups black eyed peas, washed and drained
long sorghum leaves/waakye leaves, washed and cut in half (traditionally used, but optional)
tsp baking soda
cups jasmine rice
tsp salt
Tbsp coconut oil, organic, cold pressed (optional)


Step 1

In a pot add washed beans, 2 cups of water, sorghum leaves (if using) and baking soda. Cover your beans and bring to boil then reduce to simmer and cook for about an hour or until beans are tender.

Step 2

Around the 30-minute mark, top up beans with 2 more cups of water once the water has almost evaporated.

Step 3

After the beans are tender and fully cooked, remove the sorghum leaves, if used.

Step 4

Rinse jasmine rice with water until it runs almost clear.

Step 5

Add rice to beans and top with ¾-1 cup of water. Add salt. The amount of water you add just depends on how much water evaporated while cooking your beans, it is better to start with slightly less water and add a bit more later if necessary.

Step 6

Bring rice and bean mixture to a light boil over medium heat, then reduce to very low, cover and let cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 7

Cover with parchment paper and pot lid and continue to cook for 10 minutes.

Step 8

If rice seems underdone, but not all the water has evaporated, just cover and continue cooking on low. If the rice seems under done but it is very dry, add ¼ cup of water, cover, and keep cooking in 10 minute increments on very low until done.

Step 9

Stir coconut oil into waakye (this is optional but add nice flavour) and serve.

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