Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Chart of African Carbohydrates/Starches

Here's the chart I mentioned that I put together to try and organize my understanding of some of the most common starches/carbohydrates I've run across. I'm sure there are many omissions and maybe some errors, so please help me to update and expand this listing.

(from "Food and Foodways (see July 18, 2007 posting)," in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Popular Cutlure, Sub-Saharan Africa Vol. 5, p. 101-2, © Fran Osseo-Asare, 2007)

Food Name



Typical Ingredients


West Africa


fermented corn dough steamed in corn husks or banana leaves



fermented corn dough, stirred and cooked (soft)



fermented corn dough porridge (thin)

tuo zaafe


thick sorghum or millet porridge



fermented porridge from sorghum, millet, and/or maize

gari (farine de manioc)

West/Central Africa


dried, grated, fermented cassava meal

fufu (1)

(in Nigeria, also called iyan or pounded yam)

West/Central Africa)




peeled, boiled, pounded stiff but elastic dumpling, generally not chewed (yam, cassava, cocoyam, ripe or green plantain, single or combination)

fufu (2)

Central Africa

especially DRC, CAR, Cameroon

a stiff porridge made from white corn flour, cassava flour, or a combination (similar to ugali, sadza, pap, nsima)


West Africa


a fibrous, powdery form of fermented cassava similar to, but coarser than, fufu


West Africa

Côte D’Ivoire

steamed fermented cassava granules

miondo, (myondo)

bobolo, bâton de manioc


(miondo is a Duala word, bobolo is Ewando)

cassava roots soaked and fermented, peeled, mashed, drained, ground, wrapped in banana leaves and boiled or steamed




Congo, Gabon

similar to miondo



(Tshiluba) See fufu (2)



Eastern Africa


fermented crepe/pancake commonly made from a type of millet called tef (teff), but also with sorghum or wheat



see injera



fermented millet porridge


Kenya, Tanzania

Swahili word for porridge, thin to thick, made from maize, millet,and/or sorghum


Various, esp. Kenya, Tanzania

Swahili word for a thick porridge (or dumpling) commonly made from cornmeal, but also made with cassava flour



see ugali

atapa (atap)


ground dried sweet potato porridge, with ground millet/cassava and flavorings


Southern Africa

South Africa

Dutch word for porridge made from cornmeal flour or other staple grain



see pap



stiff porridge (or dumpling) made from white field corn flour or red millet flour


Zambia, Malawi

see pap



corn pap (see pap)


South Africa

thin porridge made from slightly fermented cornmeal


South Africa

(Zulu) a crumbly version of pap (see pap)


South Africa

(Xhosa) a crumbly version of pap (see pap)


aareago said...

Fufu is not the same as Iyan. They are entirely different...

Fran said...

I agree that the 2 are different. However, they are both prepared from boiled, pounded yam. In Ghana the yam would be quite elastic, whereas the pounded yam I've had is much softer. In what other way do you think they are different (I'm thinking of the yam fufu pounded in the North of Ghana--there are also many different kinds of "fufu.")?

aareago said...

Fufu is made from Cassava tuber while Iyan is made from yam. Cassava and Yam are not the same. So are their products!

Fran said...

Thank you for your comment, Aare Ago. In N. Ghana, fufu is also made from yam alone, though in much of Ghana it is made from cassava and green plantain, or cocoyam. As I mentioned before "fufu" covers a lot of different things, depending on what part of Africa you are in.

aareago said...

Well, I agree contextually. But the moment you use a different crop product, it comes out a different food item in Nigeria.

For example, that that is made from green plantain is not fufu. it is called Amala Ogede.

So contextually, maybe fufu is the generic name for all such food made from different crop product as long as they are processes in like manners. However, In Nigeria, they are DIFFERENT!

That that is made from cocoyam could either be called Amala or eberipo depending on the processes they went through!

aareago said...

The main reason I disagree was because you specifically noted that Fufu can be otherwise refered to as Iyan (pounded yam) in Nigeria.

No one will ever mistaken Fufu for Iyan in Nigeria.

They are completely different and cannot be mistaken!

Fran said...

Fair enough. I plan to spend several weeks in Abuja this July. I hope to learn much about Nigerian cuisine while I'm there.

Mark benson said...

This post is quite an informative one as it tell one about the carbohydrates/starches the African foods contain in them. Lets say for instance one intends to go for a cheap flight to Harare for his holidays. Then he should definitely see the information about the Zimbabwean foods and maintain a healthy diet during the trip and fully enjoy the holidays.

Sarah Noack Poetry said...

And tô from Burkina Faso! It is a thickened corn porridge with a little potassium in it. It isn't fermented. BTW I really enjoy this blog. My daughter's father is from Burkina Faso and I am always looking for recipes because many of them I never had a chance to master while I was married to him. Now I want my daughter to learn more about her culture so this is really helpful!

Fran said...

Sarah, thank you for your kind words. Wonderful that you're helping your daughter learn about part of her heritage. I hope you get a chance to take her to Burkina Faso.

Boatemaa said...

I love your blog. A couple of additions to the carbohydrates, maasa, a fernented millet (or rice) pancake, usually served as a breakfast food. It's commonly sold in the Zongo part of town.
And abolo (sweetened steamed corn dough) from the eastern coastal towns, tastes delicious with fried shrimp or fried "one man thousand fish"
Do you happen to have the recipe for either of those?