Before there was KFC and Burger King in Ghana, there was Papaye and On the Run. These restaurants were popular and serving up a Ghanaian classic: fried rice. Fried Rice was the first big star at every “fast food restaurant”. Having the best fried rice in town catapulted some no famous restaurants into fandom. I remember growing up and always looking forward to sundays when we went to Papaye (the quintessential Ghanaian fast food restaurant) to get fried rice. Fried rice is the twin sister of Jollof and was a go to order at any restaurant and definitely one of my favourites at a wedding or party.
However, it was not something that we just ate at a restaurant or event. We also enjoyed fried rice at home. Every time we visited our cousins in the US, we would have this for lunch all the time. It was always a quick recipe with leftover rice and a great way to get some veggies in. It was one of the first recipes I learned from my mum.
I wished I could tell you where Ghanaian fried rice came from but I honestly have searched the web far and wide and found no mention of how fried rice came to be in Ghana. We do not really have a long history with any Asian country so i am sure it was one of those dishes someone saw on TV or learned elsewhere and brought it to Ghana. Although fried rice comes from East Asia, this recipe is entirely Ghanaian and should not be compared to authentic recipes from different East Asian countries.
What will you need for fried rice
- Aromatics: Garlic, Onion and Ginger. There is no Ghanaian recipe without the trifecta of flavour
- Day old rice: the preferred rice of choice in the Ghanaian household is long grain thai jasmine rice. It’s starchy and slightly sticky. But you can use whatever day old rice you have.
- Vegetables: Ghanaian fried rice doesn’t have much vegetables. Usually green pepper, green onions and grated carrot. Nice and simple. I actually grated broccoli stems for this recipe because I had to use it up but you can completely omit this or sub with finely chopped green bell pepper. The carrot is a must but everything else is optional
- Tofu: this is optional, it serves as the egg and meat substitute and adds some extra protein to the dish
- Spices: My mum made this with all purpose seasoning, curry powder, onion and garlic powder so that is the seasoning for this recipe too. You can sub out the seasoning if you want but I will suggest keeping an all purpose seasoning/bouillon to add flavour
How to make fried rice
- Press and sauté the tofu. Crumbling and frying the tofu before hand helps remove as much moisture as possible and adds a slight crisp on the tofu
- Sauté aromatics with oil. This brings out the flavour of the garlic, ginger and onions
- Add the veggies, spices and make sure everything is well combined
- Mix in the rice slowly. This allows the rice to really spread out and mix evenly with the veggies
- Adjust for salt with soy sauce.
- Yep, it is that simple
How to Serve Fried Rice
Fried is usually served just like Jollof Rice. It usually is accompanied with a well seasoned protein, shito and some coleslaw. If you are looking for other recipes on the blog to pair with this dish, make sure to try the vegan shito recipe (click here) and spicy suya meatballs (click here) or the oven baked spicy tofu (click here). I ate this combination for one week straight and it did not disappoint.