What exactly is this popular African food known as FUFU? If you've ever wondered what fufu is and how it is prepared, then read this article to learn all about this beloved African cuisine.
You might have heard about an African dish known as fufu from social media or TikTok videos showing a fufu challenge. It was fun to watch TikTok users trying fufu for the first time and their different reactions.
African fufu is very common in different regions of Africa but might not be well known to the rest of the world. If you love African food, you should definitely try this dish!
What is FUFU?
So what exactly is FUFU? Sometimes referred to as foo-foo or foufou, this beloved African dish is a staple food found in many countries in Central and West Africa and some Caribbean countries like the Dominican Republic.
Fufu is made by stirring, pounding, or kneading starchy vegetables like cassava or wheat till it forms a dough-like consistency. In Africa, it is primarily eaten with an African soup like okra soup or ogbono soup for a satisfying, balanced meal.
Fufu is also eaten in some other non-African countries such as Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Haiti.
What is fufu made of?
Fufu varieties are found all over Africa and are made using readily available starchy vegetables native to that region. It is commonly made from cassava, yams, maize, plantain, wheat, corn, semolina, rice, sweet potatoes, or oatmeal.
Different types of fufu
Foofoo goes by different names in different countries. Here are some versions of fufu from various countries and the food items used:
- Cassava fufu(Akpu) - fermented cassava
- Eba - dried cassava (garri)
- Pounded yam (yam fufu) - boiled yams
- Plaintain fufu - green plantains
- Amala - yam powder (elubo)
- Semolina - durum wheat
- Oatmeal swallow - blended oats
- Tuwon shinkafa - cooked, mashed rice
- Tuwon masara - corn flour
- Kokonte - cassava flour
- Fufuo - cassava and plantain
- Banku (Akple) - corn dough and cassava dough
- Kenya & Tanzania
- Ugali – cornmeal or millet flour
- Ivory Coast
- Foutou - cassava or corn
- Fufu - corn flour
- Nshima – finely ground cornmeal
- Nsima - cornmeal
- Sadza - white maize meal or cornmeal
- Posho - cornflour
- South Africa
- Vhuswa/Pap - corn or maize meal
- Fufu - cassava, green plantains, or yams.
How to make Fufu
Fufu is made in different ways depending on whether you use a starchy root vegetable or flour.
If using root vegetables like yam, cassava, or plantain, first peel it, then boil it till it is soft. Then pound it with a large mortar (usually a wooden mortar) and a heavy pestle till it forms a stretchy spongy dough.
This is usually strenuous as it is time-consuming and can be physically exhausting. Indeed making fufu is truly a labor of love!
There are easier ways to make some foofoo dishes using a food processor. After boiling the starchy root, use the dough blade of a food processor to 'knead' the cooked food till it has a smooth dough-like texture, Do not add any water when doing this. This works well with yams, cassava, or plantains.
If using fufu flour, pour it into a pot containing a few cups of hot water and stir till the texture becomes dough-like. This is done over high heat and using a large wooden spoon. You have to stir the mixture quickly to prevent the fufu from getting lumps.
How to eat Fufu
Eating this African staple dish can be a very delightful and satisfying experience. Since fufu is usually bland and not made with salt, it is usually served with an African soup either on the same plate or on a different one. The soup is usually thick and gravy-like and made with vegetables, beef, goat, or other protein, in a large pot.
To enjoy foofoo, you break off a small piece and roll it into a ball in one hand (usually the right hand). Make a small dent in it to scoop up some of the soup. Then you swallow it.
What does fufu taste like?
The taste of fufu varies, depending on the ingredients used to prepare it, but its taste can best be described as sour, bland, or tart.
Fufu is not eaten alone and is usually eaten with an African soup, which is usually very rich and flavorful and sometimes spicy. So the overall taste of the dish is determined by the flavors and spices in the soup.
Are you supposed to chew fufu?
Fufu is usually paired with soup and swallowed without chewing. In Africa, it is mainly referred to as swallow food. It is an acquired taste and can take some getting used to if you haven't tasted it before.
As a cultural food, most Africans start their kids on this dish when they are very young, so they grow accustomed to it.
Because of its somewhat bland nature, chewing fufu might taste, well, uninteresting. Therefore, swallowing it is preferred because its texture is smooth, and it is coated with soup to help it go down smoothly.
That's not to say you can't chew it if you want to. You just need to cut it into morsels and thoroughly coat it with the soup before chewing, so you can really savor the flavor.
Watch this youtube video that shows how to eat and enjoy this African food!
Storing and reheating
Fufu can be easily preserved in the fridge, and it stays fresh for two to three days. To store it, let it cool down completely to room temperature, then cut them into large balls.
Wrap them in cling film or plastic wrap and store them in the fridge. To reheat, warm it up using a microwave or on a stove with a bit of water.
What do you eat it with?
You can enjoy this African dish with many different kinds of African soups. This can be a light soup, vegetable soup, or spicy soup prepared with chicken, beef, lamb, goat, or fish.
Some delectable African soups that go perfectly well with it are:
Can you gain weight eating fufu?
Unfortunately, yes. Most fufu dishes are very high in carbs, and some contain as much as 100g of carbs per serving. For a young kid, these carbs provide much-needed energy.
However, it will become increasingly challenging for an adult to burn all the carbs and calories in this dish unless you have a very physically demanding job.
This will undoubtedly begin to cause weight gain that will slowly creep up at first but will become more apparent as you grow older. Also, since most African soups are high in fat, you would basically eat a high-carb, high-fat meal.
This could lead to obesity and other health problems, especially if you eat this dish several times a week.
Can you eat fufu on a keto diet?
However, you can cut down the carbs in fufu dishes without sacrificing too much on taste by eating low-carb versions of this dish.
Since the joy of eating fufu comes from the soup it's paired with, replacing it in your dish does not take away from how delicious and flavorful it will taste!
Here are some great low carb alternatives:
You can enjoy this popular African cuisine at home or head on over to an African restaurant near you to get the complete Fufu experience!
Healthy African Fufu
- 1 head cauliflower medium
- 2 tablespoon psyllium husk
- Cut one head of cauliflower into florets and wash.
- Put in blender, add water and blend.
- Pour in cheesecloth and drain.
- Put in a pot on medium-low heat and stir.
- Add your psyllium husk and stir some more till the texture becomes dough-like.
- Serve with African soup of choice.
- For best results, use a blender and not a food processor to blend the cauliflower to ensure it is completely pureed.
- When you squeeze out the blended cauliflower with the cheesecloth, squeeze out as much as you can to prevent the cauliflower fufu from being too soft.
Enjoy these other delectable keto African dishes!