Stiff Millet Porridge American-style

Tuo Zaafi (TZ)

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes


    ½ cup servings

Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

Tuo Zaafi, commonly called “TZ” (“tee zed,” said to mean “very hot” in Hausa and Dagbani) is a classic dish from Northern Ghana. This staple starch is to many northern Ghanaians what fufu is to many Akans, or kenkey is to many Ga people. Along with Omo Tuo (Rice Balls), it is a preferred standard carbohydrate-based accompaniment that goes with many of the soups and sauces of Northern Ghana. TZ is a thick porridge with many variations: it can be made from millet, “guinea corn” (sorghum), maize, and/or cassava mixtures. The grain can be fermented or not. It tends to be less elastic than fufu, and ranges in consistency from soft like banku to loaf-like that can be cut with a knife. It is very creamy and smooth, with a mild flavor.

During a visit to Tamale, Mrs. Comfort Awu Akor and her daughter Amadu George Shetu demonstrated making both this dish and a sesame soup to accompany it. We made our TZ from fonio but this adapted recipe is made with gluten-free millet flour which is more easily available in the U.S.


  • 1 cup millet flour
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt (optional)



  1. In a saucepan with a handle, using a whisk mix 2 cups water and 1 cup millet flour and the salt, if desired, until there are no lumps.
  2. On medium heat, cook the millet mixture, stirring constantly with the whisk for about 5 minutes, or until it thickens. Switch to a stirring stick or sturdy wooden spoon and cook another 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring and turning the porridge constantly.
  3. Lower the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the mixture cook another 10 to 15 minutes without stirring. Do check to see that it is not burning though it will likely scorch slightly. If worried, heat cup water in a microwave and pour the water around the outside edge of the porridge without stirring it in.
  4. After the porridge has been on the heat about 20 minutes, it should form a soft, somewhat sticky mass, but should keep its shape. It will harden as it cools.

To serve

  • There are a variety of options:
  • Wet the inside of a serving bowl, along with a large spoon, the stirring stick, and/or your hands. Spoon the mixture into the bowl, press it down slightly to mold it into a multi-portion size (or shape it into individual servings in small bowls). Wet a knife or spoon before cutting or serving.
  • In Ghana cooks often shape TZ into individual balls that are wrapped in plastic bags (as with Banku).
  • The TZ can be ladled into individual serving bowls along with a soup.

Make ahead: If the TZ will not be eaten immediately, cover it with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out and forming a crust. While fufu is not served as a leftover, TZ definitely may be. In Tamale we ate ours cut into slices the next day.


For a fresher, possibly less bitter flavor, grind your own whole millet into flour, or grind and substitute whole sorghum. Use corn flour and or cassava flour in place of some or all of the millet flour. Any millet flour may be used.