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Recipes

West African Fufu

Fufu (or foofoo or foufou) is possibly one the most famous west African ”swallow” foods. It is a filling side dish – starchy, smooth, dense, and stretchy that is much beloved because it is delicious, simple, satisfying, and easy to prepare.

FUFU RECIPE – (FOOFOO)

Fufu is easy to make, yet so delicious. It is not eaten alone, and it is served with a form of rich and flavorful soup or stew such as egusi soup, okra soup, ewedu soup (Jute leaves), or light soup.

It is the perfect accompaniment to soups/stews and proteins because it is easy to swallow and doesn’t require chewing, so it is a food that all ages can enjoy together.

WHAT EXACTLY IS FUFU?

Foofoo is made from cassava, which is also known as yuca. It is a starchy root vegetable, similar to sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, and yams. It can be fried, baked, and prepared just like potatoes; however, it becomes very smooth, doughy, and elastic when made into fufu.

Though traditionally made from cassava, fufu’s definition has expanded over the years to include a variety of swallow foods, such as eba, green plantains, amala, cocoyam, corn, pounded yam, semolina, and much more.

Well plated fufu - Foo foo served with egusi soup in a plate

HOW TO MAKE FUFU – RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Peel the skin of the cassava with a potato peeler or a knife.
  • Cut the peeled tuber into small cubes that can easily be processed in a blender. 
  • Blend till a nice and smooth batter is formed.
  • Transfer it to a pot and stir vigorously until the fufu is thick and smooth, like a semi-solid paste. 

…So what next?

Once the foofoo is ready, shape it into small balls, and wrap the balls individually in plastic wraps. This allows the fufu to retain its moisture and prevent it from forming a crust. 

HOW TO EAT FOUFOU

Pinch off a little bit of the foufou and mold it into a small oval ball with your palms. Make a small indentation in the fufu and use this indentation to scoop up some of the soup or stew, then swallow. Yes, I said swallow – no chewing! The ”chewing instinct” might set in, but with practice, the art of swallowing fufu can be mastered!

Washing of hands before eating any swallow food is like a rite. As long as the hand-washing ritual is observed, then cutlery is not needed.

Traditionally, Nigerians eat only with their right hand, so if you have been invited to the home of a Nigerian friend or are eating at a traditional Nigerian restaurant, please remember to eat only with your right hand, even if you are personally left-handed.

A morsel of fufu with egusi soup

WHAT EXACTLY ARE “SWALLOW FOODS”

Swallow foods are pliable yet firm doughy meals, similar to America’s mashed potatoes but with more texture. Nigerian examples include pounded yam, eba, amala, starch, fufu, and many more.  The pliable texture makes it easy to eat with your hand (right hand only, please) and to swallow without chewing.

To eat fufu, cut out a morsel from the meal,  then form an indentation on it with the thumb and scoop some stew or soup over it and swallow!

HOW TO SERVE FOUFOU

Fufu is usually served in relatively small balls and wrapped in plastic wraps to retain its moisture. It is often paired with various delicious soups and stews like Egusi, Ogbono, Vegetable, peanut soup, and Okro soup, with each person having their preference. 

FUFU WITH PLANTAINS? Do you have to add plantains?

The simple answer is no. The fufu will also turn out nice if it is made without plantains. but this is the way I love to eat fufu. For this recipe, I used a mixture of cassava and plantains. The plantains help cut down the stretchiness of the fufu and add a hint of plantain flavor. You can make this recipe just with cassava, too – same ingredients, same instructions, just leave out the plantains.

WHY DOES FUFU SMELL?

Foofoo will only have a deep fermented smell if the cassava is left to ferment before making it into fufu. If otherwise, you will experience a very mild smell like mashed potatoes without the butter :).

CAN FUFU BE REHEATED?

Yes, fufu can be reheated in a microwave. Simply unwrap any leftover balls and put them in a microwave-safe bowl. Just as you would with rice, add a splash of water, then microwave till heated through—about 5 minutes. Use a wooden stirrer to stir until it becomes nice and smooth.

IS FUFU HEALTHY?

Foufou provides a significant amount of carbs, some fats, and a bit of protein. It also provides fiber, vitamins, and minerals like:

  • Choline: Nerve and brain function
  • Potassium: Heart, kidney, and muscle function
  • Beta carotene: Anti oxidant

WHAT DOES FUFU TASTE LIKE?

It’s hard to describe but it has a very mild taste. I will say it’s a cross between potatoes and sweet potatoes.

DOES FUFU NEED SALT OR ANY OTHER SEASONING?

The simple answer is no!. A lot of people have been asking me this question over and over again. Fufu doesn’t need salt or seasoning of any kind. That is why you don’t eat fufu by itself, you need a form of soup or stew to pair with it.

LET’S TALK ABOUT FERMENTED FUFU

I’m not a fan of fermented fufu, but some people love it. It’s just one additional step, but you’ll have to start preparing it a few days in advance. Before you make the fufu, simply soak the peeled and diced cassava in water for three to five days. That’s it! Every other step remains the same. It will have a stronger smell than its usual mild starchy aroma, though, because of the fermentation.

Note that fufu hardens up as it cools down, so it’s advisable to cook it on the softer side especially if you are not eating it immediately.

What to serve with Fufu:

Other African Swallow foods that you might also enjoy:

Let’s connect on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. I love keeping in touch with you, and nothing brings me more joy than seeing pictures of your creations. Tag me @cheflolaskitchen on Instagram and Facebook.

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