With the recent Tiktok challenge #fufuchallenge, where people video themselves purchasing and eating fufu. Many native Africans have also joined the challenge to show the right way to enjoy this soft, starchy food. The dish appears simple but is one tedious dish only the Ghanaian women can pull. Reminder, without machines but only mortar and pestle.
The Twi language spoken in Ghana and Ivory Coast is where ‘Fufu’ got its name, which means to ‘mix’ or ‘mash’. Literally speaking, fufu refers to sour, soft dough made from starchy crops like cassava, yams, or unripe plantain, which is boiled and pounded with other ingredients in a huge mortar with pestle. Each region in Africa like Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Togo but t remains Ghana’s creation, thanks to the institution of cassava by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
The pain, the gain: the making
As mentioned previously, this laborious dish has not met machine until recent years. Every machine ever made for this dish has broken down as soon as it touched the starchy crop. These ‘Wonder Women’ made it without the help of machines.
The work with cassava, yams, or any of the other starchy roots, requires great k on. Fadegnom Charles, a Ghanaian electrical equipment dealer, in 2004 did develop a fufu machine; not until 2017 was Logou Minsob, a Togolese entrepreneur, triumphantly designing the enormous, boxed shaped Foufoumix.
Typically, fufu is made the old-fashioned way, by hand. In a large mortar and pestle, the cassava and other ingredients are added. As the woman will heavily pound the pestle with one hand, with the other hand would pour water gradually. The desirable smooth texture is obtained by the heavy pounding of the pestle, which breaks the fibers. This cannot be achieved by the machine, sadly. The finished product is a sticky bread, which seems like a baking product, however, it is not. The fufu enters your stomach and expands there. Fill your belly with the happiness and flavors of the soup. The natives eat fufu very religiously; it is a connection, a communion for them with divine beings and ancestors.
Staple food & ancestry wisdom: the blessing
Every staple food anywhere in the world makes sure it takes care of the overall balanced diet of an individual. Similarly, fufu too has many health gains, it is gluten-free, starchy food flourishes the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Its richness ranges from fibrous, potassium to low cholesterol. The other vitamins like C, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin). Thus, promoting overall gut health.
The how-to recipe:
￭ 300g unripe plantain
￭ 450g cassava
￭ 2 cups water (for blending)
- Peel the unripe plantain and dice it. Peel, scrape, and destring the cassava, then dice it too.
- In a blender, put the cassava and plantain along with 1 ½ cup water (keep aside ¼ cup water for steaming). Blend this till you get a smooth paste.
- Now on a medium flame, pour the paste into a shallow pan. Stir constantly with a spatula for about 10 minutes to take out any lumps.
- Add another ¼ cup of water (from the 2 cups of water). Lower the heat and cover with a lid. Let steam for another 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, increase the flame to medium and stir the fufu. The fufu might appear soft but get firmer on cooling.
- Set the fufu aside in a bowl, sprinkle some water, about 1 tsp. And let cool completely.
- After the cool down, shape the fufu into a ball or log and serve with soup or stew.
- For step 2, add 1 ½ cup water (this will strengthen the fufu) or 2 cups of water (this makes softer fufu).
- It is advisable to use a wooden spatula.
- Step 6, sprinkling water will prevent the surface from developing a film.
Couple it with….
Fufu goes well with meat, fish, or vegetables. In west Africa, nkrakra (a light soup), nkate nkwan (groundnut soup), abenkwan (palm nut soup), abuna bun (green vegetable soup), and many more are usually paired with fufu. In Cameroon, fufu is eaten with eau, which is a type of vegetable. The cassava fufu in Nigeria goes with egusi soup, bitter leaf soup, and ogbono soup.
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