Fufu and Light Soup: A Taste of Ghana

So here’s a fun fact…

Tomorrow is my one year BLOGIVERSARY!

(you should send me presents to celebrate… you know you want to…)

Anywho, I may have mentioned this in previous posts, but I started this blog for my Online Journalism class. My assignment was to pick something I was passionate about and blog about it. Obviously the first thing that came to mind was my one and only obsession: FOOD! Who knew that I’d still be sharing my obsession with you a whole year later!!!

My original blog title was Twenty-Something and Starving: An American Girl’s Quest for World Cuisine. Throughout the semester I dabbled in all sorts of different cuisines. I made French food for the first time, I was heavy-handed with the chilis in my first Indian curry, and I probably made the least photogenic sheapards pie of all time. Heh. Seriously, not a pretty sight.

For my final project, I was required to make a video about something that I was unfamiliar with. Outside my comforot zone, if you will, just like this second challenge. With the help of my friend Manfred, native to Ghana, I decided to make African food for the first time ever!!! What I made that time around was Jollof Rice, a slightly sweet, salty and very spicy rice dish that is traditional to west African and Ghanaian culture. So for this project food blog challenge, I decided to give Manfred a call so I could take a chance with another, more challenging Ghanian dish.

Fufu.

Fufu to Ghanaians is like croissants to the French or biscuits to Americans. It accompanies just about everything they eat, particularly soups and stews. I made light soup for this fufu, but I’ll get to that in a few!

Fufu is typically made from a combination of boiled cassava, plantains or yams and then pounded into a giant mass using a mortar and pestle until it reaches a doughy consistency. When it’s finished, it looks something like this…
Now, I do not have access to a mortar and pestle but I was told not to fret. Typically in America, when fufu is desired it can be made using easily accessible ingredients in a short manner of time.

Here is what you need and how to make it.
(Recipe Courtesy of Ghanaweb.com)

  • 2 1/2 cups Bisquick
  • 2 1/2 cups instant potato flakes
  • 6 cups water

Bring 6 cups of water to a rapid boil in a large, heavy pot. combine the two ingredients and add to the water.

Stir constantly for 10-15 minutes — a process that needs two people for best results: one to hold the pot while the other stirs vigorously with a strong implement. (They’re not lying when they say you may need two people! I had to call for help in the kitchen for someone to hold the pot while I stirred!!) The mixture will become very thick and difficult to stir, but unless you are both vigilant and energetic, you’ll get a lumpy mess.

When the fufu is ready (or you’ve stirred to the limits of your endurance!), dump about a cup of the mixture into a wet bowl and shake until it forms itself into a smooth ball. Serve on a large platter alongside a soup or stew.

Here is my fufu.

It was a weeeeeeeeeeeeeee bit lumpy, but it’s all good. It usually takes a lot of practice to get it just right! I was pleased with my results for being a first time fufu maker, and it went along great with the light soup that I made!

Manfred was kind enough to share with me his simple recipe and directions for the light soup he enjoys at home!

Light Soup

  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 habanero pepper
    ( my grocery store didn’t have any, so I used two serranos instead!)
  • 1/2 inch of fresh ginger
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 2 large tilapia filets, cubed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Roughly chop the tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, and peppers and place them all in a blender. Pulse until liquified.

Pour the contents of the blender into a large pot. Add the water salt and pepper and bring to a rapid boil.

When a boil is reached and a slight foam begins to form on top, add the potatoes and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let cook ten minutes.

After ten minutes, add the cubed tilapia. Let cook for about ten minutes more or until the fish is opaque and cooked through.

Serve with fufu!!

There is a traditional way to eat fufu, too, of course.

With your hands.

Reach on into that soup.
Pull off a piece of fufu.
Scoop up whatever tastiness you can from the bowl… and swallow it.
Chewing fufu is for fufu noobs.
That’s right. Noobs.

*Disclaimer: You may notice a spoon in my bowl. I only made a small amount of fufu so as to not have to clean up a gigantic mess if it didn’t turn out right. The fufu WAS eaten the proper way with my hands. The remaning soup was consumed using the spoon. Thus, NOT a fufu noob. That is all.*

36 comments

  1. Manamis

    You said it all. In the end swallowing and using your hands are key to enjoying fufu. You are official.

  2. Crystal's Cozy Kitchen

    I’ve eaten Fufu before – when I was living in Maryland some neighbors from Nigeria invited my roommate and I over for dinner. I’ve never researched what it was made with though!
    Looks delicious – you have my vote!

  3. Tim Fulton

    This is so exciting! I’m scared to try it, but i think i’m going to have to give it a try. You have my vote too!

  4. Matt Kay

    There are several cuisines that rely on using some sort of bread to pick up food (mainly stews) to eat them but this is very new to me. Now when I’m eating out with company I can eat my soup with my hands and if anyone has something to say about it I will kindly inform them of their noobishness.

    Great post!
    Matt Kay

  5. Aileen

    I love that you posted the recipe. I am married to a Ghanaian man and I typically purchase his food from a Ghanaian woman. I recently had a desire to learn how to make these dishes on my own. Your blog is a great start thank you. Also, if you do not want to use the Busquick method for the fufu, you can find boxed FuFu powder at your local international or African Market. This is much better than the Buisquick and will not leave lumps!

  6. Yom

    The fufu turns out better if you use potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes) and potato starch. Mix the starch in cold water before adding 🙂 And like the above comment said the fufu in the box is also pretty tasty!

  7. Yom

    oh and ps– you don’t need to add the potatoes to the soup! Sauteeing the onion lightly in the pot first is a good way to do it as opposed to blending. Blending the onion will cause the soup to thicken. You can also throw celery into the blender to help the “lightness” of the soup.

  8. JBunny

    Thanx for taking the time out to try something out of your element….Fufu is a pretty tasty dish and i eat it almost everyday. You can buy fufu that is pre-mixed(so it saves you all that trouble). Thanx for sharing your story!

  9. amoah

    Im married toa ghanian man an when i told him about the bisqick and potatoe method he looked at me like i was crazy. But You did a very good job I cook his ghanian dishes for him all the time but im american but great job first timer……

  10. olivia

    fufu and light soup was my best food when i was in ghana, actually i’m a nigerian but i find it dificult to learn how to make the soup i rally like what i saw thank so much

  11. Leigh

    I found your blog while trying to find a recipe for light soup. I married a Ghanaian and recently traveled to Ghana. i’m missing fufu and light soup. And groundnut soup…. and jollof rice… And palm wine… Thanks for sharing! Now I might make this for dinner tonight 🙂

  12. ScottB

    There’s a very interesting history associated with this. In the late ’70s, when I was in college, yams could not be shipped fresh so my Nigerian classmates used bisquick. We made our stew in a popcorn popper in a dorm room – onion, tomato paste, canned spinach, chicken parts, okra, and an insane amount of oil. All cooked in the popper and eaten with raw bisquick – no other utensils. We were so lubed up we could drink anyone under the table.

  13. Jennifer

    That really is an interesting history, Scott! And quite innovative, too, I might add!! I feel like I was spoiled in college since I lived in an apartment I never had to create dorm room food.

  14. Ashley

    I had my Ghanian mother in law living with me and never took the time to learn her ways! Now in going to try to make this dish! You explained it all well (I got made fun of for my use of silverware and trying to peal a mango before eating it over there) you’re even eating with the correct hand! I always seem to confuse that

  15. K Church

    Hahahaa…I am Nigerian. I’m surprised fufu is very popular in Ghana. In Nigeria its popular among those from the eastern part of the country. That’s a very good plate of food you made there. Nice one. I like how you improvised to make the fufu. You can use semolina or cassava flour in powder form…found in most African/Asian shops. Keep it up!

  16. Juanita

    Kudos to you Jennifer for not being afraid to dig in deep, hands, feet and all to fully experience African food. No matter how many times I’ve had Ethiopian or Eritrean food I still slightly cringe inwardly when I feel my fingers dip into the food. I’ll never forget this one time my mother and I were invited to dinner at the home of an Eritrean friend of ours. In Eritrea it’s a tradition for one of the younger members of the host’s house to hand feed the elderly guest’s their food, my Aunt was 76 at the time. My Aunt was fairly traditional in general and somewhat particular about her food, despite having spent 3 months in Nigeria, so when I saw my friend get up to go feed my Aunt I began to cringe inwardly. When her fingers dipped into the food on my Aunt’s plate, my Aunt got the most incredulous “what the h3ll” look of her face, and turned around in her seat, as if she was about to go off. My friend quickly explained to her the custom, but my Aunt was not having it, so my friend quickly apologized and the dinner continued on from there as normal. I often think of that moment when I eat African food, lol, or really any food of which you eat with your hands. Despite that however, even though I myself am a little OCD about cleanliness, the food doesn’t really taste the same when you eat it with western utensils.

  17. Scott Baxter

    It’s 1979, you’re a senior in a dorm in an Oklahoma university town and you run into a bunch of black guys speaking with a funny accent. You ask them what their native country is and that starts a long strange trip. Segue to one of the Nigerians’ dorm room, and you are the only non Nigerian there. You see food components on the floor and a popcorn popper. You are informed that you are being taught how to prepare fufu. They also called it ‘bisquick’. They put cut up chicken livers, gizzards, meat stripped off of legs and thighs cut up, wings too, and necks sectioned into half inch pieces and with just a little water more or less cooked it in the popcorn popper, basically boiling it until the fluid was thickening. It’s poured out into a bowl. Next, someone puts a half cup of vegetable oil in the popcorn popper, heats it up but not to popping heat, then throws in a half of a large onion thinly sliced and diced, stirring it around until the onion wilts, then a small can of drained chopped spinach goes in (heat management is important because the oil can flash if it is too hot when the water of the spinach hits it) then a can of tomato paste, then about a quarter pound of cut okra, 5mm thick slices, then stirred and stirred, then the chicken goes back in, more stirring, then adding the spices (garlic in plenty, and other herbs I knew nothing about), then one whole box of bisquick was turned into dough with enough water. The stew by this time is done and they let the bisquick sort of stabilize and drink Guinness, only Guinness and about a half hour passes, then we all sit around the popcorn popper and pass the plate with the big bisquick dough ball on it, pulling out a lump the size of a billiard ball, putting it on a small plate before us. I’m instructed how to use my fingers to pinch off a pice of the dough I have and make a flat disc about 3mm thick and 30 mm across, then using my index, second finger and thumb make a sort of trough and dip it into the popcorn popper, fishing for what’s inside. Once you scoop up enough you quickly toss it back dough and all, then make another disc. We do this until the popper is empty then we really start drinking. You find out what all the oil is for after you still have your head after the sixth Guinness. You express your thanks by providing them with an herb you know, albeit one not for cooking. We all get cooked though…

    Fast forward to 1999. You are a mature professional departing your company’s divisional headquarters in Plano TX for the airport to fly back home to St. Louis. Your limo driver is speaking in that same accent you remembered from 30 years ago and you ask him if he’s Nigerian. He says “yes” and you see him looking at you funny in his rear view mirror. You mention how you learned to make ‘bisquick’ and his head whips around in rush hour traffic babbling that nobody has made it like that in over 20 years, let alone a white man reeling off the recipe. You literally yell at him to get his eyes back on the road as he is veering across lanes. He then explains that yams could not be transported to America in good condition until X date, so they had to use bisquick as an alternative. He had not heard anyone describe the preparation since that time (one pot fufu with bisquick). I felt like a museum animatronic telling history tales. I mentioned my friend N’chor (I could not say his name and called him Neechoh which made him laugh) driving the wrong way up one way streets because no one was coming and my driver said he could no longer drive when he flew home to Lagos. He’s a professional chauffeur in America but has lost the ability to drive Lagos’ streets. Quite a drive back to the airport.

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