Puff Puff (Deep Fried Dough Balls) {Vegan}

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Guys, this Puff Puff is a traditional African snack. It is sweet, fluffy golden brown and suitable for vegans too. This is my tried and true method for making Nigerian Puff Puff. And I even have a step-by-step tutorial. Suitable for people following a vegan diet.

Golden Puff-puff in a pot on a table

If you don’t already know about Puff Puff (Puff-Puff recipe, deep fried dough), 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 African Dough Balls are my latest addiction. I am not ashamed to say that I have gone through 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.

Golden Puff puff in a pan, dusted with some icing sugar and on puff puff split in half

Honestly, I am going to be getting to know this Puff Puff recipe and all its variations very, very well.

What is Nigerian Puff Puff?

The best way to describe these is that they are like fried doughnut balls. They are essentially sweet deep-fried dough balls 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
  • salt

Plus, some oil for deep frying. My version has some nutmeg as this is one of my favorite spices and its slightly sweet warm flavour goes perfectly well in these vegan fried dough balls.

There are slight variations in recipe across Africa. This one here is a Nigerian Puff Puff which is pretty similar to Sierra Leone Puff Puff. Liberians call them kala,  Ghanians call them Bofrot and they are known as Mikate in Congo and Beinye in Cameroon.

to Puff puff - one whole and one split in half dusted with some icing sugar

So are you ready to learn how to make fried dough balls? Then gather your ingredients and I will show you…

How To Make Puff Puff

  • Mix together 1.5 cups warm water and sugar in a large bowl, add in the yeast and leave for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
  • Then add the flour, nutmeg and salt and mix into a smooth batter. If the bather is too thick then add in a 2 tablespoons 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 overcrowd the pot.
  • Fry until the bottom of the puff puffs are golden brown, then turn them around and fry the top side till golden brown too.
  • Remove the Puff Puff 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 flavored icing sugar on the deep fried dough balls before serving.

 Puff Puff Tips

These fried dough balls 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 African Puff Puff

  • This recipe needs 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 lukewarm water to activate the yeast, not hot water which will kill it.
  • You have to let your batter rise and double in size, which is what makes them light and spongy. Trust me, you want to wait that little bit extra.

Tutorial on how to make puff puff - puff puff ingredients, activating the yeast, adding flour and spices tot he mix, the puff puff data

How To Fry Puff-Puff

Some tips on how to fry 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.

how to make puff puff tutorial - letting the puff puff batter rise, the puff puff batter, frying the puff puff, puff puff in a pan

How To Make Sweet Puff Puff

  • I go light with the sugar as I prefer to add a dusting of icing sugar at the end, but if you want your African Puff Puff to be a little sweeter then add in a few extra tbsp of sugar at the mixing stage.

Puff Puff Recipe Variations

I have seen quite a few different versions of this. You can make some

  • Coconut Puff Puff
  • Cinnamon Puff Puff
  • Chocolate Puff Puff,
  • Banana Puff Puff
  • Fruit Puff
  • Savoury Puff Puff with spices and greens.

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 Fritters from Taste.com.

Puff puff in a pot with some icing sugar.

What To Serve With Puff Puff

Coconut Caramel Sauce.

Instant Pot Iced Tea.

More African Recipes

Cassava Leaves.

African Pepper Soup.

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.

Get The Easy Puff Puff Recipe:

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Golden Puff-puff in a pot on a table
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5 from 7 votes

Puff Puff

Puff Puff
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Snack
Cuisine: African, Vegan
Servings: 6
Calories: 246kcal
Author: Bintu Hardy

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

Puff Puff

  • 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 the flour, nutmeg and salt and mix into a smooth batter. 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 Puff Puff 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 on the deep fried dough balls before serving.
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Notes

African Puff Puff Tips

  • This recipe needs 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 lukewarm water to activate the yeast, not hot water which will kill it.
  • You have to let your batter rise and double in size, which is what makes them light and spongy. Trust me, you want to wait that little bit extra.
The prep time does not include the time to go spongy.

What To Serve With Puff Puff

Coconut Caramel Sauce.
Instant Pot Iced Tea.

More African Recipes

Cassava Leaves.
African Pepper Soup.

Nutrition

Calories: 246kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 6g | Sodium: 295mg | Potassium: 62mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 2.7mg

 


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28 Comments

  1. I have a question about the sugar, is it just for toppings? I didn’t read the full article but when you say, “ Then add the flour, nutmeg and salt and mix into a smooth batter” I’m wondering if it includes the sugar too. Thanks.

  2. We visited St. Lucia this summer, my son and I ate something they called “Festivals” almost every single day we were there. These look and sound similar. Will have to try to see of they come out the same. Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    Looks so delicious. Sharing it right away 🙂 Let me know if you have a video of this recipe as well. Thanks for sharing!