Tender, elastic, and sour, banku is a dish of boiled dough balls that are traditionally served alongside sizzling-hot grilled fish, shito (hot sauce), shitor din (black pepper sauce), or okra stew, and popular all over West Africa. Let’s discover more about this unique African dumpling.

What is Banku?

Banku is a dumpling-like dish similar to African fufu or Kenley. It’s made with a mixture of fermented corn dough and cassava dough that is cooked in water until fluffy and formed into orange-sized balls. 

History of Banku

Banku is said to emanate either from the Ewe people in the Volta Region or Ga-Adangme people along the South-Eastern coast of Ghana. Many historians attribute the origin of banku to be somewhere in the 16th century as it’s the same age, the vegetables like corn and cassava-which are the foundation for banku-were first introduced in Africa. It’s a staple food in many Ghanian tribes like Ga-Dangme, Ewe, and Fante, and more.

Image Credit: Flickr user IFPRI ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

What does Banku taste like?

Banku looks like a white ball of dough, that’s soft and elastic in texture. It has a sour taste due to the fermented dough. To curtail and complement the tanginess of this dumpling, it is usually eaten with savory-spicy Ghanian stews and soups. 

How is Banku made?

Making banku was quite a task in the past as it required several days to ferment the corn dough. Traditionally, the corn kernels combined with chopped cassava tubers were soaked overnight followed by milling that would convert the mixture into a wet dough. The dough would then be left to ferment for 2 to 3 days in a warm place. Once fermented, the dough would be cooked in water until it clusters up into pulp which is then shaped into several white balls that we now know as banku. 

Image Credit: Flickr user jypsygen ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

Nowadays, all of the banku ingredients are readily available in the market including the pre-made fermented corn dough, and cassava dough that only needs to be cooked in salted water, and ready to be savored. Therefore, it is a golden moment for banku lovers who can make banku quickly and easily. 

Serve your banku with Harira, grilled or sous vide tilapia, and Callaloo. Besides, a side of fried plantains will give a nice crunch while harissa can add a spicy kick to your banku meal. 

Image Credit: Flickr user Kake .( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

Banku Storage

Banku is wrapped around a plastic covering while still hot to keep its texture soft. It can be stored for up to a week if kept in a cool and dry place.

Feature Image: Flickr user Kake . ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

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