International Recipes and Cooking Around the World


Women making fufu

(West African mashed yams)

Image Creative Commons by aripeskoe2

Average: 4.2 (39 votes)

Fufu is a mash of yams or other starches that is served in West Africa as an accompaniment to meat or vegetable stews. To eat fufu, pull a small ball of mush off with your fingers, form an indentation with your thumb and use it to scoop up stews and other dishes. Or place large balls in individual serving bowls and spoon the stew around them. If you have ever seen pictures of African women pounding a large mortar and pestle in a steady rhythm, they are probably making fufu.

This starchy side dish goes by many names: fufufofofoufoufoutou. In French-speaking countries it is sometimes called cous-cous. The East and Southern African counterpart is ugaliFufu has also found its way into Caribbean creole cuisine and was certainly brought there by imported slaves. Caribbean versions are most often made with plantains or cornmeal and is known as foo-foo, or foofoo. On Barbados it is known as coocoo.

4 to 6 servings


  • White yams -- 2 pounds
  • Butter -- 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste


  1. Place the unpeeled yams in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 15 to 30 minutes, or until the yams are cooked through and tender. Drain and let cool somewhat.
  2. Peel the yams, chop them into large pieces and place them into a large bowl with the butter, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until very smooth. Alternatively, put the yams through a potato ricer and then mix with the butter, salt and pepper.
  3. Place the fufu into a large serving bowl. Wet your hands with water, form into a large ball and serve.

Fufu Variations

  • Fufu is made with a wide variety of starches. White yams are most popular in West Africa, sometimes mixed with plantains. Central Africans tend to favor cassava root (yuca). Africans far away from home will sometimes use potato flakes or Bisquick™. Other options are sweet potatoes or semolina and ground rice. A variety of flours (rice, plantain) can also be boiled with water to form a starchy mass.
  • Use half yams and half plantains if you like. Simply boil the plantains unpeeled along with the yams. Then peel and mash along with the yams.
  • Cuban Fufu: use all plantains and mix in some pieces of roast pork or pork cracklings. Add a quick squeeze of lime juice if you like.

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