African FouFou

As cooking friends from Ghana, DRC, Burundi, Somalia, Zambia, and Liberia taught to Lindsay Sterling at various locations in New England.

Notes: Foufou is a starch similar in texture to polenta and known by many different names throughout Africa (Burundian bugali, Zambian nshima, Congolese ugali...) It served in the form of a smooth mound or a slice of a molded loaf alongside soup or saucy dishes. In the U.S. we use bread similarly as we dip our bread into soup or soak up sauce with it.

Foufou can be made out of different flours such as that of corn, rice, semolina, plantain, or cassava/yuca. Foufou mixes/flours are sold online or at tropical markets such as the Tropical Foods Supermarket (450 Melnea Cass Blvd Boston, MA). The easiest and tastiest version of foufou to make in my opinion is one made with pre-cooked corn flour that some Congolese friends told me beginners should use. Incidentally, this is the same flour my Venezuelan friend used to make arepas. 

All my foufou teachers ate foufou with their hands. They broke off small bites of foufou, dipped them in soup or sauce, and then ate them. After the novelty of getting my hands messy wore off for me, I found myself putting spoonfuls of foufou in my soup and enjoying them as I would dumplings with a spoon. For authentic dishes to accompany foufou, try these: Ghanaian peanut soup, or Burundian greens, beans, and goat.

Cooking time: 30 min.
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fou fou mix or fine flour of corn, plantain, rice, or semolina
  • 4 cups water

Equipment

  • Small pot or microwave safe bowl
  • Foufou stick, wooden dowel, or wooden spoon
  • soup bowls or medium mixing bowl

Instructions

1. Fill medium pot on medium high heat with 4 cups water. Mix in the foufou flour in so that the water turns opaque  but is still completely watery in texture. Stir constantly with the foufou stirring stick.

2. When the mixture heats up, it'll turn thick like cream. Boil vigorously, stirring constantly. The mixture will continue to thicken. Now, keep stirring around and around the edges and bottom, about 15-20 minutes. This is hard and you will want to quit, but this is how you do it. The goal is to end up with a contained ball of thick dough: jiggly, sticky, and malleable. Keep stirring so the foufou is smooth and thick, like a wet ball of really sticky playdough.

Ebenezer Akakpo teaches how to make his favorite food from Ghana.

3. When you have a smooth thick mass, wet the inner surface of your guest's soup bowl (this will make the foufou not stick to the bowl). Scoop a serving (about 2/3 cup) of the foufou dough into the bowl. Move the bowl back and forth and around to get the mass of foufou to bounce around inside the bowl and take on the bowl-shape. It may help to turn the foufou over to get a really smooth, mounded top surface. Repeat for other guests. You can spoon soup or sauce around the foufou in the same bowl or serve the foufou and soup/sauce in separate bowls.