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Street Food Magic

The number of street food vendors in Africa is unknown but the economic, social and cultural value of street food for Africa is priceless.

Fufu street food vendors in Ghana.

Working on average 10 hours per day street food for many African people becomes the only way to earn a living, and street food vending, in particular, represents one of the easiest and viable jobs, as it requires little start-up capital. Limited access to credit is a major barrier to the growth of the street food enterprises.

Food vendors need a license to legally trade in many places in Africa. However neither at the national nor at local level, in Africa there is no framework policy or law specifically regulating street food vending.

Street food is any ready to eat food or beverage sold and sometimes prepared in outdoor public spaces on streets, squares, parks, open-air markets by vendors or cooks either on foot or in vans, carts, or stalls. Many people eat street food on average 6-7 times a week especially by students and unmarried people. 

The availability and accessibility of street foods over space and time, indeed, in large urban areas there are so many street food vendors operating round the clock that consumers can always find one within reasonable distances.

Koose fried bean cake is a street food in Ghana, and a similar variation is more popularly known as akara in much of West Africa. the origins of koose or akara are linked to the Hausa people. Koose, kosai, akara, or akla is made from ground cowpeas or black eyed peas.

Akara fried blackeyed pea cakes

Here is the recipe for Koose Fried Black Eyed Bean Cakes which makes about 10 small bean cakes.

1 can of black-eyed peas liquid drained
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add all ingredients into a large bowl and mash well with your lightly oiled hands or a potato masher or add to a food processor and blend until smooth. Form the bean mixture into quarter-sized ball, flatten and fry until are a golden-brown in color.

Most common African street foods.

The most common street foods sold in Africa are fried, usually fried fish and fried chicken, fried bean cake, meat pies and fried yam also bread and sausages, bread and eggs, kebabs meat or liver, sauce and stew based foods. Other common foods sold are rice, boiled rice dumplings, roasted plantains and corn and porridge.

Another popular street food is fufu. Fufu, often made with cassava flour, is a major staple food in Nigeria and many other countries in West Africa.

Bofrot as it is called in Ghana or Puff-puff Nigeria is a traditional African snack similar to a doughnut and is one of the most popular street foods in West Africa. Kelewele street food vendors sometimes serve this popular food with rice and stew, peanuts, or alone as a dessert or a snack. Kelewele is also popular for breakfast in Ghana.

Kelewele pronunced kelli welli is one of Ghana’s most popular street food snacks sold by street hawkers. Easy to make, kelewele are plantain cubes, sprinkled with ginger, hot pepper and fried in palm oil.


3 yellow plantains peeled and diced

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon paprika

Palm oil for frying


In a frying pan with just enough oil to allow plantains to float, over medium high heat, heat oil then fry plantains until golden brown on both sides. Drain on absorbent paper, sprinkle with spices and serve.

Easy to make, kelewele are plantain cubes, sprinkled with ginger, hot pepper and fried in palm oil.

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Being African in America I have grown up learning about different ethnic cultures. My father and mother are historians of African culture and history and their influence expanded my activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded products, and a popular African culture and food blog.

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