If you don’t already know about puff puff, then you are in for a treat. It is a super popular and well known West African snack, sold in various street food stalls and shacks. If memory serves me rightly you walk into any of the food stalls in Sierra Leone and ask for some ‘fry-fry’. What you end up with is the biggest African sandwich known to mankind which is essentially bread stuffed with a version of puff-puff, with some plantains, chicken or fish and a whole big helping of gravy. Honestly guys this is the BEST. EAT. EVER.
Well, these golden with a very slight deep fried ‘crunch’ on the outside, yet soft, spongy yet fluffy on the inside, with a little hint of sweetness puff puff are my latest addiction. I am not ashamed to say that I have gone thought at least 6 versions of this recipe. Plus, in the last few weeks since I started working on the recipe, I have served them for breakfast, with a generous dusting of icing sugar and tea; served them to the kids all scrunch up in newspaper cones as a pre-park visit snack; as part of an mahoosive African brunch spread and just had them as plain old supper treats, just because I could. They are so, so good. Plus these are suitable for vegans.
Honestly, I am going to be getting to know this puff puff recipe and all its variations very, very well.
The best way to describe these is that they are like a fried doughnut ball. It is essentially a sweet deep-fried dough which as you know makes the perfect snack. The basic ingredients are pretty simple and are items that you already have in your pantry. Aka flour, water, yeast, sugar and salt. Plus, some oil for deep frying. My version has some nutmeg as this is one of my favourite spices and its slightly sweet warm flavour goes perfectly well in these deep-fried dough balls.
There are slight variations in recipe across Africa. This one here is a Nigerian puff puff. Liberians call them kala, are knows as Ghanians call them bofrot and they are known as mikate in Congo and Beinye in Cameroon.
Tips on how to make puff puff
These are pretty easy to whip up. And they are one of the recipes that a lot of people do by eye. However, I have given you measurement here so you can just mix it all up and go.
Making the puff puff
This recipe need yeast. Just be sure that the yeast you use is fast action yeast which is the kind that people use to make bread.
Make sure you use luke warm water to activate the yeast, not hot water which will kill it.
You have to let you batter rise and double in size, which is what makes them light and spongy. Trust me, you want to wait that little it extra.
I go light with the sugar as I prefer to add a dusting of icing sugar at the end, but if you want your puff puff to be a little sweeter then add in a few extra tbsp of sugar at the mixing stage.
Frying the puff puff
Make sure the oil is hot enough before you fry these. If you add the batter to the hot oil and it just sinks to the bottom then it is not ready. If, however the batter rises to the top very quickly then you are good to go.
Dropping the batter in a way that results in the perfectly round ball shape that puff puff are known for is an art in itself. To be honest I just drop them how I can and eat them how they turn out. It is all about the taste for me. There are various methods, including videos on how to do this.
One method is to scoop it with your hand (I grew up watching my grandmother do this) and pushing the dough off with your finger. Another is to put them in a bag, make a hole in the corner and squeeze out the amount you need. I tend to vary between the hand drop method and the scoop some batter up using metal spoon then using my hand or another spoon to push the batter of the first one.
Variations to the Puff Puff recipe
I have seen quite a few different versions of of this. You can make some coconut puff puff a cinnamon version, a chocolate version, a cinnamon, banana or fruit version and even savoury puff puff with spices and green. Basically if you like it, you can put it in the batter and you are good to go. PS if you like these, then you can try my akara recipe too or these pumpkin fitters from Taste.com.
So guys here is how to make puff puff. Please do try them and if you do make them, then please do tag #recipesfromapantry on Instagram or twitter so that I can pop over and have a look. It is really, really awesome for me when you make any one of my recipes.
African flavours – is the spot on my blog where I share traditional Sierra Leonean recipes, African recipes and African fusion recipes.
Thank you for reading this West African puff puff recipe post. And please come visit again as I continue dreaming up recipes, traditional African recipes, African fusion recipes, Sierra Leone recipes, travel plans and much more for you.
- 50 g (0.3 cup) sugar
- 420 ml (1.75 cups) warm water
- 2.5 tsp fast action active dry yeast
- 350 g (3 cups) flour
- 0.75 tsp nutmeg
- 0.75 tsp salt
- Oil for deep frying
- Mix together 1.5 cups warm water and sugar in a large bowl, add in the yeast and leave for 5 mins to activate the yeast.
- Then add in the flour, nutmeg and salt and mix into a smooth bather. If the bather is too thick then add in a 2 tbsp of water.
- Cover the puff puff batter and leave in a warm place for at least 1 hour until it has doubled in size.
- Add oil into a frying pan till it is between 3-5 inches deep. Any shallower will mean that your puff puff will end up flat, rather than round.
- Heat the oil and test. If you add in some puff puff batter and it sinks, then the oil is not ready. If the batter floats to the top then you are good to go.
- Drop balls of batter into the mixture, making sure not to over crowd the pot.
- Fry until the bottom of the puff puffs are golden brown, then turn them round and fry the top side till golden brown too.
- Remove them from the oil, drain on kitchen paper, keep somewhere warm and repeat till the rest to the batter is cooked.
- You can now sprinkle on some icing sugar or nutmeg / cinnamon flavoured icing sugar before serving.
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