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THE TRADITIONAL WAY TO PREPARE AFRICAN FUFU USING MORTAR AND PESTLE

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By Prince Boateng

Food > African Fufu, Mortar, Pestle

Last Updated on 21 September 2022

fufu with palm nut soup
Fufu is a famous dish in Africa. It was originated from west Africa and it is eaten in countries like Ghana, Togo, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Angola, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and more. In Ghana it is also called Fufuo by the Ashantis. The food is common in other African countries and each country has their own method of preparing it but basically all fufu is a mixture of cassava, plantain, ripe plantain or cocoyam which is been made soft and sticky. The traditional method of making fufu is done by mixing equal amount of cassava and plantain or cocoyam or sometimes the cassava is more than the plantain and vice versa depending on your preference. In recent times, there have been a lot of machines used in preparing fufu. Most Africans or Ghanaians do not prefer this method of making the food. They believe the authentic African fufu is pounded in a mortar using pestle. It is pounded in a mortar with a pestle until it is made soft and sticky and this is usually done by countries like Ghana, Ivory Coast and Liberia or some people stir it with a wooden spatula in a stove and this is done by countries like Nigeria and more. Usually two people pound fufu as one uses the pestle whilst the other stir the mixture with his or her hand but in some countries like Togo about two or more people uses the pestle and pound it in a bigger mortar. In Ghana fufu is mainly eaten with soups like light soup, palm nut soup, groundnut soup and more. Other countries like Sierra Leone eat their fufu with a sauce. In Nigeria their fufu is made from fermented cassava dough which is called akpu and it is eaten with thick stew. In some other countries like the Ivory Coast, they prepare their fufu by mixing the cassava with ripe plantain which makes their fufu taste sugary. In some countries instead of using cassava, they replace them with other flours such as maize flour, semolina, or mashed plantains. Fufu is eaten with the fingers and it is dipped into the soup, sauce or stew for consumption. Nsima, Pap, Sadza and ugali are some other foods which are similar to fufu. The food is also popular internationally as it is found in Caribbean countries like Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Haiti and more.

A pestle leaning against a wall
A pestle


A mortar placed on the floor
A mortar

Recipe
Ingredients: Cassava, Plantain or Cocoyam.

Note: The Plantain can be replaced with a cocoyam and vice versa.

Peel some cassava and plantain. Put them in a bowl and wash them. Pour it into a pot and cover it with a plain rubber. Place the pot on fire and let it boil for about 30 - 35 minutes. After your cassava and plantain is well cooked pour it in a bigger bowl and start pounding it in a mortar with a pestle. You first pound your plantain or cocoyam and after that you add your cassava. Pound it firmly in order to prevent lumps from forming in it. The softness of the fufu depends on your personal taste as some people prefer their fufu to be very soft other people also prefer their fufu to be very hard. Your fufu can then be served with soup, sauce or stew and can be eaten with fish or meat. Some people also prefer adding okra to their soup. In African Countries like Ghana, some people prefer their fufu to be served in an earthenware bowl. Garnishing is not very much needed when serving the food.

Two people pounding African fufu using mortar and pestle
Fufu being pounded by two people

Note: The soup used to eat fufu must be hot all the time as you will not like to eat your fufu with a cold soup. In order to do this the pot or the pan containing the soup will be on fire at a normal temperature in order to maintain the heat and you pour some into your food the moment it starts cooling. This is mostly done by Ghanaians.

What is the taste of fufu?

Fufu is a ‘swallow food’ but do not feel bad if you chew it especially if it is your first time. In general, fufu has no taste. But when your mixture consists of cassava and ripe plantain, it has a sugary taste as stated earlier.


What is the color of fufu?
fufu with light soup

The color of fufu varies. The color of fufu depends on your mixture of the cassava or plantain. If your fufu was made with only cassava you get this whitish color. If it was made from both cassava and plantain but the plantain was more than the cassava, you get this yellowish color. If it was made from cassava and cocoyam, it looks more like a cream color.


Is it okay to refrigerate fufu and reheat it the next day?

Traditionally fufu was made to be consumed in a one day period. But our tight schedules especially in this modern times would let us do otherwise. Yes, you can refrigerate your fufu and reheat it the following day but there are some things you need to take note first. 1. Your fufu will not taste the same after refrigerating it and reheating it. 2. When fufu is left overnight or placed in a fridge, it develops an irritating smell due to fermentation but that does not mean there is something wrong with it. You can heat it and consume it if you are able to overcome this smell. In Ghana, some locals place their overnight fufu on the rooftop and allow dew to fall on it. These locals claim that is the best way to preserve fufu for the next day.


Some famous celebrities who tried fufu.

1. Lupita Nyong'o:

In 2020, it was reported that the famous actress was on holidays in Ghana. She did enjoy some fufu during her stay.


2. Idris Elba:

Idris Elba once stated in an interview how growing up with African parents was like.

" You know I'm an only child my mom and dad they really sort of retained their culture even though they lived in England they retained their culture spoken Creole is the language which is basically just pidgin English is broken English so I can speak that badly I mean I can understand it lots of real African food you know fufu you know what fufu is? you eat it with your hands you dip it in the sauce it’s so good."


3. Keri Hilson:

The singer was once seen eating a bowl of fufu.


4. Lori Harvey:

Lori Harvey tried fufu with egusi at a restaurant.



Nutrition

Fufu is very nutritious. It contains 2 g of protein, 0.1 g of fat and 84 g of carbohydrates. The food is also very low in cholesterol and it is very rich in potassium which helps to maintain good levels of fluids inside the cells of living things, and doctors often prescribe it for people who have a very low level of potassium in their blood. The energy derived from fufu is 267 kcal(1118 kj). The soup which the food is being eaten with contains a variety of ingredients and it contains nutrients like fiber, vitamins A, C and K, fat, potassium and many more especially if it has a lot of vegetables and other ingredients like beans, carrots, cabbage and more. The meat and the fish which is being eaten with is also rich in protein.


Conclusion

That is every information you need to know about preparing African fufu using mortar and pestle. This food is very delicious and it is one of the most popular foods in Ghana. If you are planning a trip to Africa especially to countries like Ghana, make sure you request for pounded fufu.


Everything you need to know about the greatest Ghanaian dish Fufu.
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