Delicious Non-Vegan African Foods

Not All Swallows are Fufu

“Not all swallows are fufu.” Nigerian cuisine is slowly gaining the recognition it deserves. This is evident in the “Fufu to Egusi” challenge that hit the internet with a very welcome force. But with bad publicity comes the responsibility of disseminating information. So it should be mentioned here that not all swallows are fufu. Please let me explain.

Swallow/Mosel or your own compound name is a carbohydrate accompaniment to soups and stews in many African countries. We like to put our carbs together on a plate into a ball. Makes scooping soups and stews easier.

However, there is fierce debate about the origin of the name. Many people scoop their morsels and soups and swallow them without chewing. I chew my own bits because I can’t imagine not chewing my own food. However, many swallow it and hope for the best, hence the name.

There are many different species of swallows and mausers on the continent. They are usually made from various types of root vegetables, with the exception of modern built-ins for health reasons. Cassava, yams, plantains, maize. I will share some swallows I know. Add anything you may have missed in the comments section.

types of swallows

n/a – Depending on the region or country, the fufu may look different when served. Some are more smelly than others, some are yellowish compared to white.One thing is for sure, with all fufu options, they are made from cassava. In the process of fermentation, it looks, smells and tastes different. If you are from south-south Nigeria, your fufu may be whiter and smellier than other fufu. Other fufu options may be bland and just take on a soup or stew taste.

Heart-pounding – This is made from African yam. The yams are boiled and beaten with a mortar and pestle until they form a smooth dough that is slightly stretched but coherent.

Gari – It is also made from cassava. The cassava is grated, fermented, air-fried, and hot water is added to form a dough before it reaches the customer. It may be yellow because it was fried in palm oil, it may be white but not sour, or it may be white and sour. A sour version is known in Nigeria as Ijeb Gali.

Amara (Elbow) – Can also be made from yams, cassava, and plantains, but must be dried and powdered. It is then mixed with water over a fire until a very stretchy and light dough is formed.

Semo – It is usually made from semolina flour. Add water to the flour and heat it to form a dough.

african swallow

Kenkey – Like other crumb processing methods, this one is made from corn that is fermented and milled before cooking into dough. It has a sour taste due to fermentation and is commonly eaten with grilled fish and pepper salsa.

*Edit* Kenky is not considered a swallow in Ghana

Saza/Ugari – This is a sip similar to Ghanaian kenky, but the fermentation makes the difference. These swallow options are similar to Mexican tamales, but as mentioned above, the fermentation, or lack thereof, makes the difference.

new swallow

More recently, swallows have evolved for health reasons. People began looking for ways to incorporate high-fiber, low-glycemic swallowing options into their diets. A swallow made of dehydrated cabbage was born.

*Edit* Flour has been consumed in the North for over 70 years


Everyone has been properly educated, so when introducing Nigerian, West African, or African food in general, make the effort to ask which swallow exactly you’re eating, and do so with proper respect. I hope you can handle it.

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