Deep fried dough is a common concept in many countries gastronomy and there are
plenty examples of these tasty delicacies around the globe. In Europe, you can find in
the italian cities of Napoli or Rome the zeppole, in Greece the loukoumades, in
Germany the fasnascht and in France the beignet.
Meanwhile in India exists the gulab jamun, made with powdered milk, while in Latin
American countries, like Argentina or Venezuela, the buñuelo is also a common tea
snack. Nigerian football icon Victor Moses, who recently traded the English Premier
League for Fenerbahçe, moving to Istambul, might have also already tasted the turkish
Lokma, made with flour, sugar, yeast and salt.
However, we are sure that Victor, just like other fellow Nigerians, knows the difference
between all these treats and the one and only Nigerian Puff-Puff. This snack is part of
the cuisine of many African countries, such as Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Ghana and
Nigeria, each one of them claiming to have the best recipe. In Nigeria it is a common
street snack, but what makes the Nigerian puff-puff so special?
Well, similar to Lokma, puff-puff is also made with flour, yeast, sugar and salt. The
difference is the liquid used in the dough, which varies from water, to milk or beer. In
Nigeria, nonetheless, some people use palm wine, which gives another flavor and
consistence to the final product.
A little parenthesis here: for the ones who have just landed in Nigeria, or in western
Africa, palm wine is an alcoholic beverage, quite popular in the continent, originated
from the sap of a large variety of palm trees, such as palmyra, coconut palms or date
palms. It is known as Ogogoro by Nigerians, distilled from fermented Raphia palm tree
juice and widely homebrewed by several local families. Palm wine can be added in the
recipe of puff-puff as a substitute for yeast or you can add both if you prefer.
The inclusion of a liquid, whether it is wine, water or something else, might be the main
variance between the Nigerian puff-puff and another African dough delight: the
Ghanaian bofrot. While the first one is made of a wet bread dough, the bofrot is drier
and made from a solid yeasted bread dough.
Besides this, the puff-puff can also include nuts or dried fruit. We recommend you
follow this recipe, which mentions the addition of half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg,
giving it a subtle flavor, since this spice doesn’t have a very strong taste. If you are
adding yeast, make sure it is not expired or else it might ruin your whole recipe.
After you’ve collected both these two ingredients, join them together inside a bowl, with
half a cup of sugar and three pinches of salt. You will also need 2 cups of flour,
vegetable oil for frying and then you can choose if you prefer to do it with water, milk
or palm wine.
To make sure that the puff-puff becomes a beautiful well shaped sphere, make sure they
are deep fried at least in 3 inches of oil. If you don’t take this step into consideration,
your beloved Nigerian treats, might end up as flat pancakes.
Flip the balls until they are golden brown on all the sides and have the perfect
anticipated format. The puff-puffs can be served along with cold drinks, coffee or hot
chocolate and, since they are known as the African doughnuts, you can either eat them
plain or with other condiments, like jam or honey. Don’t forget there are options for all
tastes and these lovely Nigerian goodies can be either salty or sweet, so don’t act
surprised if some people add pepper on it.