Tuo Zaafi: A nutritious northern delight loved across Ghana

Stories and facts

Tuo Zaafi, also known as TZ or Saakbo in Frafra, is a beloved delicacy in Ghana, particularly from the Northern region.

This nutritious dish has now become a staple on the streets of Ghana, enjoyed by many alongside soups like Ayoyo or dry okra, also known as ‘Kubewa Bu-shay-shay’.

Tuo Zaafi is a flavorful Ghanaian dish typically served with vegetable soups made from leaves such as ayoyo, aleefi, kuukar, okra, and shuray.

While bearing some resemblance to Akple, a dish from Ghana's Volta Region, TZ distinguishes itself with its softer and less sticky texture. Featuring ingredients like dawadawa, smoked herrings, goat or cow meat, and various natural spices, this favorite from Northern Ghana offers a diverse culinary experience.

Originating from the Hausa language, the name Tuo Zaafi translates to "stirring hot," reflecting its preparation method and spicy nature.

Beyond Ghana, this dish is also enjoyed in West African countries like Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Various types of Tuo Zaafi exist, depending on the type of flour used, with corn flour being the most common in southern Ghana, alongside millet, corn dough, or cassava flour.

The growing popularity of Tuo Zaafi is evident in its inclusion on restaurant menus across Ghana. While traditionally eaten as dinner, some prefer it for breakfast or lunch. Enthusiasts in Accra have lauded Tuo Zaafi for its delicious taste and nutritional value.

Registered Nutritionist Akosua Konadu Yiadom hails Tuo Zaafi as one of Ghana's best indigenous foods, citing its ability to improve blood flow, lower cholesterol absorption, and regulate insulin. The vegetable leaves soup and meat stew accompanying the dish provide a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, promoting healthy skin and reducing wrinkles.

For those curious about the preparation process, Hajia Fulera, owner of Special TZ in Accra, shares a simple recipe. Mixing flour with water, boiling, and stirring until porridge-like consistency is achieved forms the base of TZ.

The accompanying Ayoyo soup involves boiling the leaves with salt petre, blending or using a special broom for preparation, and adding dawadawa, smoked herrings, and natural spices for flavor.

Whether you're a longtime Tuo Zaafi enthusiast or new to this culinary delight, it promises a delicious experience best enjoyed hot and garnished with shea butter. As Tuo Zaafi continues to gain popularity, it remains a symbol of Ghana's rich culinary heritage and a must-try for food enthusiasts.



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