Monday, 25 October 2010

Togo - Chicken Groundnut Soup with Fufu

Food, just like language, knows no boundaries in West Africa and Chicken Groundnut Soup with Fufu is popular, not just in Togo, but in many neighbouring countries as well.  I used a website to give me an idea of which ingredients I should be using and, to be honest, I improvised a lot.  In fact, I think I'll improvise even more in future, as I like fusion cuisine and it's nice to put your own stamp on things!  If you want to see the original recipe, click here


For the Fufu:

1 yam

1 plantain

For the Chicken Groundnut Soup:

chicken thighs (I was lazy and bought fillets)
2 tomatoes
1 large onion
A jar of peanut butter
Tomato puree
chicken stock (about 500ml)

Making Fufu

Fufu is one of the main staples in West African cuisine and is similar to Pap in Lesotho (see my recipe for Chakalaka in an earlier blogpost).  Fufu can be made from various different starchy vegetables, such as cassava, but also from grains or cassava flour.  I used polenta when I was making Pap, but I wanted to be a bit more adventurous this time and decided to used yam and plantain.

Yam is not to be confused with American yam, which is sweet potato (although I'm sure this would have been a nice option as well).  It was my first time cooking yam, although it's practically identical to cassava (at least I can't see much of a difference, except in size).  First, I peeled off the tough bark-like skin, chopped the yam up into manageable chunks and boiled it for twenty minutes or so, before adding the slices of plantain. 

Yam takes a bit of getting used to and I can't quite make up my mind whether I like it or not.  Mashing it up with plantain certainly helped lighten the taste a bit, but I'm wondering what else I could do, in future, to make it more 'interesting'. 


Making the soup

This bit was easy.  I prepared all of the vegetables and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  I ignored the recipe at this stage, which was telling me to boil everything in water, I did my own thing really, frying the onion until it softened, then frying the chicken pieces until they were starting to brown.  After that I added the tomato, cooking everything with the lid on for another five minutes.  Finally, I added the tomato puree, most of a jar of peanut butter and the chicken stock, then stewed everything on a low-ish heat for around twenty minutes.


How not to serve Chicken groundnut soup

I couldn't quite figure out how to serve the dish, opting to create a base layer of fufu, then spooning the soup on top.  As you can see from the photo, it ended up being a big mess really!  I had some left over though and it occured to me that it might be a good idea to roll the fufu in balls, so it would hold together in the fridge until the next day.  The groundnut soup also seemed to thicken a bit over night and I also made the wise decision of eating everything out of a bowl the next day, rather than off a plate and, I guess, this is how the dish is meant to be eaten.

I think in Africa people tear off bits of fufu with their hands and dip it into the soup.  I tried doing the same with pieces of buttered bread and it was absolutely delish!  A surprisingly good 'winter food', now that the weather in England has turned really cold.  Surprising because the dish comes from such a hot place!

As usual, it was fun to try something new and if I make this dish again, I will probably add a few more ingredients, spice up the fufu and serve the whole thing in bowls!
Image credits:

All photos were taken by me!
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