Abenkwan I Recipe - Authentic Ghanaian Palm Nut Soup

Abenkwan I

Abenkwan I Recipe - Authentic Ghanaian Palm Nut Soup
Region / culture: Ghana | Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour | Servings: 6


Abenkwan I
Abenkwan I

Abenkwan, also known as Palm Nut Soup, is a rich and hearty dish that is a staple in many West African countries, particularly in Ghana. This traditional soup combines the unique flavors of palm nuts, smoked fish, and beef, creating a delicious and comforting meal. It is often served with fufu, banku, or kenkey, making it a complete and satisfying dish. The preparation of Abenkwan involves a blend of simple yet flavorful ingredients, and it embodies the culinary traditions and cultural heritage of the region.


The history of Abenkwan dates back centuries and is deeply rooted in West African cuisine. Palm nuts, the main ingredient, are abundant in the region, making this dish a common choice among locals. Over the years, Abenkwan has been passed down through generations, with each adding their own twist to the recipe. It is not just a meal but a cultural expression that brings families and communities together, especially during festivals and celebrations.


How to prepare

  1. Wash the palm nuts, place them in a saucepan, cover with water, and boil until they become soft.
  2. Prepare the meat and fish, wash them, and place them in a saucepan. Add salt, garlic, and chopped shallots.
  3. Add a small amount of water and bring it to a boil.
  4. Crush the palm nuts in a mortar until they become pulpy.
  5. Transfer the crushed palm nuts to a bowl, add warm water, and stir with your hand. Remove any fiber residue by squeezing out the juice.
  6. Strain the palm liquid through a fine strainer into a clean bowl.
  7. Add the palm nut liquid to the meat along with tomatoes, onions, garden eggs, and pepper.
  8. Simmer until all the ingredients become soft.
  9. Remove the vegetables, grind them, and return them to the soup mixture.
  10. Allow it to simmer for approximately 1 hour.
  11. Serve with fufu, banku, kenkey, etc.


  • While the traditional Abenkwan recipe is beloved by many, there are several variations you can try:
  • Substitute chicken or goat meat for the beef for a different flavor profile.
  • Add okra or spinach for extra vegetables and a nutritional boost.
  • For a vegetarian version, omit the meat and fish and use vegetable broth for the base.
  • There are several variations of Abenkwan that you can explore:
  • Chicken or goat meat can be used instead of beef for a different flavor profile.
  • Vegetarians can omit the meat and fish, adding more vegetables or tofu for protein.
  • For a spicier soup, increase the amount of ground pepper or add fresh chili peppers.
  • There are several variations of Abenkwan, including:
  • Using chicken or goat meat instead of beef for a different flavor profile.
  • Adding okra or spinach for extra vegetables.
  • Making a vegetarian version by omitting the fish and beef and using vegetable broth as the base.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure the best flavor and consistency for your Abenkwan, here are some helpful tips and tricks:

- Use fresh palm nuts if available, as they provide the best taste and color to the soup.

- When crushing the palm nuts, make sure to extract as much juice as possible, as this forms the base of the soup.

- Slow cooking is key to allowing the flavors to meld together beautifully.

- If the soup is too thick, you can add a little water to reach your desired consistency.

- Taste and adjust the seasoning as you cook to ensure a well-balanced flavor.

Serving Suggestions

Abenkwan is traditionally served with starchy sides such as fufu, banku, or kenkey. These sides help to soak up the delicious soup and make for a filling meal. You can also serve it with rice or boiled yams for a variation.

Cooking Techniques

The key cooking techniques for Abenkwan involve boiling, simmering, and straining. These methods help to extract the maximum flavor from the ingredients and achieve the right consistency for the soup.

Ingredient Substitutions

If palm nuts are not available, you can use canned palm nut pulp as a substitute. Additionally, if smoked fish is not to your liking, you can use dried fish or omit it altogether.

Make Ahead Tips

Abenkwan can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for longer storage. Simply reheat on the stove or in the microwave when ready to serve.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Abenkwan in a large bowl, garnished with fresh herbs such as cilantro or parsley. Accompany it with your choice of side dish presented separately, allowing guests to combine them as they prefer.

Pairing Recommendations

A light, crisp beer or a fruity white wine pairs well with the rich flavors of Abenkwan. For a non-alcoholic option, try a ginger beer or palm wine for an authentic experience.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftover Abenkwan in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator if frozen, then warm on the stove over medium heat until hot throughout.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of Abenkwan contains approximately 400-500 calories, making it a hearty meal option. The exact calorie count can vary based on the specific ingredients and portion sizes used.


Abenkwan is relatively low in carbohydrates, with the primary sources being the vegetables used in the recipe. Tomatoes, garden eggs (African eggplants), and onions add a modest amount of carbs, making this dish suitable for those monitoring their carbohydrate intake.


The fats in Abenkwan primarily come from the palm nuts, which contain natural oils. While palm oil is high in saturated fats, it is also a source of tocotrienols, a form of vitamin E with antioxidant properties. The smoked fish and beef also contribute to the fat content, providing a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats.


This dish is a good source of protein, thanks to the inclusion of beef and smoked fish. Proteins are essential for building and repairing tissues, making Abenkwan a nutritious option for maintaining muscle health.

Vitamins and minerals

Abenkwan is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C from tomatoes, vitamin A from palm nuts, and iron from the beef. These nutrients play vital roles in maintaining healthy skin, vision, and immune function, as well as aiding in red blood cell production.


The main allergens to be aware of in Abenkwan are fish and shellfish (from the smoked shrimp). Individuals with allergies to these ingredients should exercise caution or seek alternative recipes.


Overall, Abenkwan is a nutritious dish that provides a good balance of proteins, fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. It is relatively low in carbohydrates and can be part of a balanced diet.


Abenkwan is a flavorful and nutritious dish that represents the rich culinary heritage of West Africa. With its combination of palm nuts, smoked fish, and beef, it offers a unique taste experience that is both satisfying and comforting. Whether you stick to the traditional recipe or explore variations, Abenkwan is sure to be a delightful addition to your cooking repertoire.

How did I get this recipe?

I have a strong memory of the first time I saw this recipe for Abenkwan. It was many years ago when I was just a young girl, eagerly watching my own grandmother in the kitchen as she prepared this traditional Ghanaian dish. The aroma of rich spices and savory meats filled the air, and I could hardly contain my excitement as I watched her expertly combine ingredients and stir the pot with care.

As I grew older, I became more and more intrigued by the art of cooking and the way in which each recipe told a story of its own. I would spend hours in the kitchen with my grandmother, asking questions and taking mental notes as she shared her culinary wisdom with me. It was during one of these sessions that she finally revealed the secret behind her iconic Abenkwan recipe.

She explained to me that Abenkwan was a beloved dish in Ghana, often served at special occasions and family gatherings. It was a hearty soup made with a blend of meat, vegetables, and spices, simmered to perfection over a low flame. The key to its rich flavor, she told me, lay in the careful selection of ingredients and the slow cooking process that allowed the flavors to meld together in perfect harmony.

My grandmother had learned the recipe from her own mother, who had passed it down through generations of our family. She had honed her skills over the years, experimenting with different combinations of spices and meats until she had perfected the dish to her own taste. And now, she was passing on this knowledge to me, eager to see me carry on the tradition in my own kitchen.

I watched as she chopped onions and tomatoes, peeled yams and cassava, and prepared the various meats that would go into the pot. She explained each step to me in detail, emphasizing the importance of patience and attention to detail in creating a dish that was truly special.

As the soup simmered on the stove, filling the kitchen with its tantalizing aroma, my grandmother sat me down at the table and handed me a pen and paper. "Write this down," she said, a twinkle of pride in her eye. "This recipe is a treasure, and it must be preserved for future generations."

And so I diligently wrote down every detail, from the precise measurements of each ingredient to the exact cooking time needed to achieve the perfect consistency. I listened intently as my grandmother shared stories of her own childhood, of the times when she had watched her own mother prepare Abenkwan with love and care, passing on a tradition that had been cherished in our family for generations.

When the soup was finally ready, my grandmother ladled out bowls for us to enjoy together. As I took my first taste, I was overwhelmed by the richness of the flavors and the depth of the spices that danced on my tongue. It was a dish that spoke of history and tradition, of family and love, and I knew in that moment that I would carry on the legacy of Abenkwan for years to come.

And so it was that I became the guardian of this cherished recipe, passing it down to my own children and grandchildren as my grandmother had done before me. Each time I prepare Abenkwan in my kitchen, I am transported back to that day when I first learned the secret behind this iconic dish, and I am grateful for the love and wisdom that have been passed down through the generations.

As I look back on that memory now, I am filled with gratitude for the lessons my grandmother taught me in the kitchen that day. The recipe for Abenkwan is more than just a list of ingredients and instructions – it is a story of tradition and heritage, of love and family, that will forever hold a special place in my heart. And as I continue to cook this dish for my loved ones, I am reminded of the enduring power of food to connect us to our past and to nourish our souls in the present.


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