Fufu (variants of the name include foofoo, foufou, fufuo) is a staple food of the Asante, the Akyem, Bono and Fante peoples of the Akan ethnic group of Ghana and is eaten in Guinea (Guinean cuisine). It is made by boiling starchy food crops like cassava, yams or plantains and then pounding them into a dough-like consistency. Fufu is eaten by taking a small ball of it in one's fingers and then dipping into an accompanying soup or sauce. Foods made in this manner are known by different names in different places. However, fufu (the Akan name given to this kind of food) stands out beyond Akan communities especially in Ghana and in West Africa in general. Among Hausa communities in Northern Nigeria, it is known as sakora, sakoro among the Dagombas of Northern Ghana, and as couscous(couscous de Cameroun) in the French-speaking regions of Cameroon (not to be confused with the North African dish couscous).
In Ghana, before cassava was introduced, fufu was made with yam. In some situations, it is made with plantain or cocoyam. In Nigeria and Cameroon, fufu is white and sticky (if plantain is not mixed with the cassava when pounding). The traditional method of eating fufu is to pinch some of the fufu off in one's right hand fingers and form it into an easily ingested round ball. The ball is then dipped in soup and swallowed whole.
A similar staple in Sub-Saharan Africa is ugali, which is usually made from maize flour (masa) and is eaten in the eastern African Great Lakes region and Southern Africa. The name ugali is used to refer to the dish in Kenya and Tanzania. Closely related staples are called nshima in Zambia, nsima in Malawi, sadza in Zimbabwe, pap in South Africa, posho in Uganda, luku, fufu, nshima, moteke, semoule, ugali and bugari in Republic of the Congo and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and phaletshe in Botswana.
In the Caribbean and the nations with populations of West African origin, such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Puerto Rico, plantains or yams are mashed and then other ingredients are added. In Cuba, the dish retains its original African name, or is also known as fufú de platano. In the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, the dish is described as mangú and mofongo, respectively. The difference between West African fufu and Caribbean "fufu" is noted in both the texture and the flavorings, Caribbean fufu and mofongo being less of a dough-like and more of a firm consistency. Another difference can be seen in mofongo, unlike Caribbean fufu and West African fufu the Puerto Rican mofongo is fried then mashed with broth, garlic, olive oil, and stuffed with meat (traditional chicharrón), vegetables, or seafood.
The vegetable or source of fufu in the Anglo Caribbean is not fried first. Plantain is not used as much, as it is used in so many dishes. Fufu is usually part of or added to a soupy sauce or on the side with a soupy dish. In Barbados it serves as part of the national dish and is called cou cou and uses cornmeal or, less commonly, breadfruit instead, like several other English Caribbean islands. In Haiti it is called tum tum. It is mostly made of breadfruit but can be made of plantain or yams. Also it is usually served with an okra based stew or soup.
Fufu, or more generally pounded starchy food, originates from Ghana, where it is pronounced either as "fufu" by the Fantse people or "fufuo" by the Asante, the Akyem and Bono people. The word fufu is believed to have come from the Akan language common to the Asante, the Akyem, Bono and the Fante people. On the other hand, some researchers think the word could have originated from the fu fu sound that is made when starchy food is being pounded. It is the staple food of both the Asantes and the Fantes, though eaten less on a daily basis by the coastal Fante people. It is eaten with light pepper soup (nkakra), palm nut soup (abenkwan), groundnut (peanut) soup (called nkatikwan in Twi) or other types of soups made with a variety of vegetables and other ingredients, such as nkontomire (cocoyam leaves). Soups are often made with different kinds of meat and fish, fresh or smoked.
Pieces of boiled cassava or other tubers are pounded together in a giant wooden mortar using a wooden pestle. In between blows from the pestle, the mixture is turned by hand and water gradually added till it becomes slurry and sticky. The mixture is then formed into a ball or a rounded slab and served. With the invention of the Fufu Machine preparation has become much less labour intensive.
- DeLancey, Mark W., and Mark Dike DeLancey (2000). Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon, 3rd ed. Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, p. 134.
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- "Ghana's cooks take to fast fufu". BBC News. 2006-05-29. Retrieved 2008-08-05. - Microwavable instant fufu