The sheer joy of eating fufu is is hard to match. The tasty West African staple comes in countless variations, tastes and textures that work with a wide variety of regional flavors. We all have our favorites: the fufu that we think works best with a certain stew or for a certain time of day, and we all know that one weird person who eats their’s with a fork—like seriously, why? Perhaps you’ve never tried fufu and you’re looking for a good and easy recipe to try. Or maybe you were wondering “what is fufu?” Whatever the case may be, we’ve got you covered.
Fufu, which is believed to have originated in modern-day Ghana, is commonly made by pounding starchy food crops such as cassava, yam, plantain and others with hot water. It’s eaten throughout the West African region and in several Caribbean countries including Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
In this short guide, we list some of the most common types of fufu, and by “fufu” we mean any hot starch, ground or mashed, cooked over heat and formed into a rich paste, generally eaten by hand with stew or soups. For the purpose of this guide we also includes East and Southern African versions, as well, though we completely understand if you don’t categorize your nshima, sadza or pap as fufu.
Below we give you a guide to different types of fufu from across the continent, links to recipes on how to make them, and offer some pairing suggestions. Enjoy!
Cassava is one of the primary starches used to make fufu. It’s eaten in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte D’ Ivoire, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Benin and more. It’s also eaten in several Caribbean countries as well. Made of fermented cassava, this fufu can and should be eaten with any stew of choice: peanut-based stew, egusi, okra, tomato stew—whichever your heart desires. It’s scrumptious either way.
This fufu, widely known in Nigeria as eba, is made of dried and grated cassava (garri) which gives it a grainier texture than regular cassava fufu. It is often described as having a slightly tart and sour taste. It’s eaten across West Africa, in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo, Benin, Sierra Leone and more, and it pairs well with most stews such as okra soup, tomato stew, egusi and more.
As its name implies, this popular fufu is made of yams, pounded down into a flour and then cooked on a stove with hot water. Cooking pounded yam down to a smooth, mashed potato-like texture requires some arm strength but it’s totally worth it in the end. This fufu tastes excellent with a side of vegetable or peanut stew. Everyone should enjoy pounded yam with a side of egusi soup at some point in their lives.
Black Yam or Cassava Flour
Known as kokonte in Ghana and amala in Nigeria, this fufu made of black yam or cassava flour has a unique, brown or off-white appearance, and a thick, slightly gooey texture. For many, this fufu is an acquired taste. In Ghana, Togo, and Equatorial Guinea, black yam or cassava fufu is often eaten with groundnut or palm oil soup. It’s popularly eaten with ewedu (corchorus leaf) stew by Yoruba people in Southern Nigeria and with edikaikong (green leaf soup) by the Efik people of Cross River State, as well as with bush mango (ogbono) soup.
This fufu is made of durum wheat, the same used in pasta and couscous. Semolina fufu pairs well with a simple okra or red, tomato stew.
Corn Meal Flour
This East and Southern African staple, commonly known as ugali in Kenya and Tanzania, posho in Uganda, nshima in Malawi and Zambia, sadza in Zimbabwe, and pap in South Africa, is made from corn meal or millet flour. Its thick texture is similar to a porridge and allows for it to be cut into pieces and eaten with various stews, vegetables beans, sakuma wiki (spiced collared greens), and other relishes.
Plantain fufu is a lighter alternative to yam and cassava-based starches. It’s made with blended green plantain that thicken when stirred over a stove. It’s eaten across West Africa. A variation of plantain fufu, known as matoke is widely eaten in Uganda. This fufu pairs well with peanut soup, palm oil soup, leafy vegetable stew, and tomato stew.
This alternative fufu recipe, consists of blended oats cooked in boiling water and formed into a hardened paste. This type of fufu, tends to be slightly drier, so pair with a side of saucy, leafy green stew for best results.
Corn Dough and Cassava Dough Fufu
Largely known as banku, this Ghanaian fufu is made of corn and cassava dough cooked with salt and formed into a white paste. Enjoy banku with shito and fried fish or okra soup.
Rice Meal Fufu
This rice-based fufu, known as Tuwo Shinkafa in Northern Nigeria, is a sticky, mashed rice dish, shaped into balls and eaten with—you guessed it—stew, any will do, as this fufu tastes similarly to plain rice, but spicy, red chicken stew is always a tasty choice.