Fufu, an essential food in most of West Africa, refers to a dough made from boiled and pounded starchy ground provisions like plantains, cassava, or malanga—or a combination of two or more. It was brought to the Americas by enslaved populations who adapted it to Caribbean cuisines according to what was available. The word "fufu" comes from the Twi language, spoken in Ghana and Ivory Coast. It means "mash" or "mix." 

There are many versions of fufu, with each West African country featuring its own favorite recipe. Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico have their versions, too, with sweet plantains and added animal fats such as butter, bacon, or lard.

In African tradition, fufu is served family-style in a big round doughlike form. The dough is hand-pulled by each guest who uses it to soak up the juices in stews or soupy preparations. Thus, it's customary to eat fufu with clean hands as this is finger food in the truest sense of the term. By pulling off a pinch of dough about the size of a quarter, rolling it into a ball in your hand, and then making an indentation in the ball with your thumb, you can then scoop up some stew or sauce and enjoy the whole bite.

The traditional recipe for fufu uses true yams, which are boiled and then pounded in a wooden mortar and pestle until they're smooth and sticky like dough. The tart and sour flavor of pounded starches pairs really well with full-bodied and well-seasoned meat and vegetable dishes. For this recipe, we set aside the traditional mortar and pestle and use a food processor instead, which cuts down on the amount of work and time needed.

Steps to Make FUFU

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds yams

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

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