Fufu (Swallows)

Fufu (Swallows)

Making swallows can be a labor of love. Throughout West Africa, swallows, which are a satisfying accompaniment to vegetable soups and stewed meats, are traditionally prepared by pounding cooked starchy roots or tubers in a large mortar with a heavy pestle. As the vegetables break down, hot water is added and the mixture becomes stretchy and soft, with a texture like yeast dough. All swallows are not fufu, but fufu is the term commonly used in the diaspora to describe the method in this recipe: continuous cooking, stirring and kneading turns finely milled starch into a smooth, elastic mass. The result, like that of the classic method, is notably neutral in taste and always served warm.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 2 persons



  1. Step 1

    Pour 3 cups of water into a medium pot and make a slurry by stirring in the flour all at once with a wooden spoon. Set the pot over medium-low heat. Cook the batter, stirring continuously as it thickens and begins to form a dough, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Step 2

    Reduce the heat to low and fold the batter over itself, smoothing out any lumps as you fold. You should have a thick and chalky-looking dough at this point. Continue to cook while folding until the dough begins to stiffen and pull away from the sides of the pot, and a thin film forms on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Step 3

    Spread the dough across the bottom of the pot, then use the wooden spoon to poke a few deep indents on the surface. Pour 1/4 cup of water around the edges and over the top of the dough.
  4. Step 4

    Cover and cook without stirring until the dough is heated through, translucent and all the starchy granules have absorbed the water, 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Step 5

    Remove the lid and mix until a smooth, slightly glossy and sticky dough forms. If the dough is too firm, you can add up to 1/4 cup additional water. It should be soft and somewhat pliable, but not runny. Remove from heat, cover and let sit to set and cool slightly, at least 5 minutes and up to 15 minutes.
  6. Step 6

    Form the mixture into spheres to serve: Fill a bowl with water and dip a large serving spoon to wet it, then scoop the dough. Press the scooped dough in the spoon against the side of the pot to shape the dough into a round, then transfer to a shallow bowl. Repeat with the remaining dough to form 2 to 3 more spheres, dipping the spoon into the water before each scoop. Fufu and swallows are typically served with a vegetable soup, such as efo riro, egusi soup or okra soup, and topped with any stewed meats.