Akans are known for preparing their delicious dishes using antelope excreta, while the Northern Region’s people rely on natural spices like African Locust bean, commonly known as Dawadawa. Unlike the Akans, who use antelope excreta, Dawadawa comes from the seeds of the locust bean tree. This spice goes by different names in Ghana and Nigeria.
The African Locust bean tree, with its locust pods containing up to 30 seeds, is indigenous to the sub-Saharan region, thriving in the favourable climate of the Northern Region. To produce Dawadawa spice, a laborious process begins after collecting the seeds. The seeds are pounded, boiled, and allowed to ferment, which takes at least a week. Groundnut is then added to the locust beans during the fermentation process.
Madam Fati, a market vendor, shared insights into Dawadawa’s health benefits, including aiding in healing boils and treating various illnesses like stroke, hypertension, and diarrhea. It also helps control blood sugar levels, improves digestion, and more. Beyond its delicious taste, Dawadawa is rich in essential nutrients, such as probiotics, protein, vitamin C, vitamin B12, calcium, lipids, phosphorus, and potassium.
Dawadawa finds its way into various dishes, including jollof rice, bitter leaf soup, melon soup, alefu soup, and palm nut soup. For women in both the Northern and Southern regions, Dawadawa is a source of income generation.
Dr. Nicholas, a lead dietician, highlighted the importance of sourcing Dawadawa from sanitary places to avoid food poisoning. Despite its probiotic properties, improper handling and production in unhygienic conditions can lead to adverse effects, even miscarriages for expectant mothers.
In conclusion, Dawadawa stands out not only for its flavor but also for its health benefits and nutritional value, making it a staple spice in many African dishes.