Sadza is just a generic term for cooked meal that has been ground into a fine powder. The meal can come from lots of different sources, like corn or manioc. The word ‘Sadza’, I believe, originates in Zimbabwe. In Lingala, one of the trade languages in Congo, it’s called Fuku.
Lots of countries and cultures across Africa have their own versions of this porridge-like starch. The ingredients and method depend on the country, region, and time of year. In the area of Congo where Pappa was born and raised, the Congolese would primarily use corn flour, but as the dry season progressed, and their corn flour storage began to run low, they would start mixing ‘songo’ (called ‘gari’ in West Africa, which is ground manioc/cassava root) in with the corn flour, and by the end of the dry season, often times, they had no more corn, so their Fuku was made only with manioc/cassava until they could grow, dry, and pound a new harvest of corn.
In our little corner of Congo, the variety of corn that they used was extremely hard to pound when fully dry. They didn’t have stone-grinding technology, so pounded everything with mortar and pestle. In order to make the corn easier to pound, they would soak it overnight to soften it. During the soaking process, the corn would start to sour a little bit, making the Fuku from our area unique in its slightly sour flavor.
***You can’t buy the soured Fufu (Fufu is the word for the dry flour, Fuku is the word used when it’s cooked) here in the states from what we’ve been able to find, but you can make it sour by either adding 5-6 TBSP of vinegar to the water, or you can substitute the water for whey from straining homemade yogurt.***
To make things simple, we just do a 50/50 combination of songo (gari/manioc/cassava flour) and corn flour.
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This recipe serves 4-6 people when served with a sauce/side of your choosing.
- 5 cups water
- 2 ½ cups Gari/Manioc Flour (white or yellow is fine)
- 2 ½ cups Yellow Corn Meal (try to avoid course-ground corn meal)
- You can make it sour by either adding 5-6 TBSP of vinegar to the water, or you can substitute the water for whey from straining homemade yogurt.
Heat your water in a 2-quart pot.
In a separate bowl, combine your two kinds of flour. Stir them well so that they’re evenly mixed.
Once the water is boiling, slowly add your flour, stirring constantly. You want to make sure that there are no lumps! Once it’s all mixed, continue to stir until it becomes a firm mass, similar to stiff mashed potatoes (it’s an arm work out, lol). Then turn off the heat.
Spoon the Sadza into a large shallow-bottomed serving bowl. Press it in as tightly as you can and place a large dinner plate over the top to keep the steam in. Let it sit for a few minutes.
Invert the bowl onto the plate, and lift the bowl off of the mixture. You should be left with a bowl-shaped form of Sadza/Fuku.
Use a large spoon to scoop portions for each individual. It’s not the most flavorful on its own, so is always accompanied with a sauce or side of some sort. Eat the Sadza with your fingers, dipping it in your choice of sauce (this Peanut Sauce is my favorite!).