Amala is an incredibly popular accompaniment in Nigerian cuisine. While it still is relatively unknown in most western countries, it is quickly gaining traction, just like Chin Chin did! So, read on to learn exactly what this tasty dish is and how to make it at home!
What Is Amala?
Amala, also spelled àmàlà, is an incredibly popular indigenous food from the Yoruba tribe in many parts of Nigeria, Benin, and Togo. This dish is simple but surprisingly delicious.
It’s considered one of the staples swallows in Nigerian cuisine. And no, I’m not talking about the bird! Swallow is a term that refers to a variety of starchy dough accompaniments for stews and soups.
The best way to describe it is to think of a steamed (flour and water) piece of dough. The consistency is incredibly unique and the texture is unlike others. Amala dough, once steamed and kneaded, has a thick paste-like texture that should be smooth and lump-free.
The most prominent flavor of any Nigerian amala recipe is earthiness. It’s difficult to explain, but once you taste it you will know.
There are a couple of ways you can make an amala recipe. The main difference between them is the type of flour used. Traditionally, either yam flour, cassava flour, or unripe plantain flour is used. These naturally give the amala food a very different flavor and even color.
Now, personally, I prefer using yam flour to make my amala. It is easy to find, relatively affordable, and is quite nutritious (for flour at least).
Amala made from yam flour is the most common version. If you have to option of multiple products, choose an option that is especially high in starch. This helps bind the ingredients together and gives the amala its unique paste-like texture.
The second most common type of amala made is from cassava flour. When buying cassava flour for this amala recipe, make sure to choose the fine dried flour. If you use fermented and flaky cassava flour, the taste and texture will be completely different from what amala should be.
This option is suited for people who are on a low-carb diet. While they are still unripe, some are harvested, peeled, dried, and ground into flour.
How Do You Serve Amala?
As I have mentioned, amala is a type of swallow. So, you don’t serve alama on its own. But instead it is a popular accompaniment to virtually any stew or soup
Arguably the most common soups alama is served with include ewédú, gbẹ̀gìrì, ogbono, ẹ̀fọ́, and ilá.
The most popular of these are definitely gbegiri and ewedu soup.
Gbegiri is a type of peeled cooked bean soup. It is deliciously savory and often fishy. Ewedu is a soup that you make from Jute leaves. It has a bright green color and when all of these elements are served together, it really creates a rainbow plate!
Have a look at my simple and delicious recipes for Gbegiri and Ewedu!
Tips And Tricks
You have to add all of the flour into the water at once. If you add it slowly or in sections, you won’t be able to get rid of large lumps of flour pockets.
The most challenging part of this amala swallows recipe is the kneading step at the end. This is how you create a specific thick and smooth consistency. However, it is a quite labor-intensive process that takes a bit of time. So just be patient. Your amala will soon be perfect!
If you don’t plan on using the amala dough immediately, you can always just wrap it in plastic or saran wrap. Whenever you are ready to serve all of your elements, simply reheat it in a steamer or even the microwave (on the low heat setting).
What is Amala served or eaten with?
Amala is traditionally served with a wide variety of traditional Nigerian soups or stews. Amala is like the roti or naan bread of Nigerian cuisine.
What Does Amala Taste Like?
The closest way to describe the flavor of amala dough is to think about earthy ingredients. Root vegetables can give you a good idea of what I mean. But, the best way to decide whether or not you’ll like it is to try making it at home yourself. Luckily, there are three types of flour you can use, most of which are easy to find globally.
Is Amala similar to Fufu?
Fufu is another type of swallow in African cuisine. It is a dough-like food that you make using a combination of pounded boiled cassava and plantains. You can also make it with the flour alternatives of these ingredients. The dough is lighter in color and a lot creamier. You can also make it from fermented cassava flour.
Are Amla and Amala the same thing?
These two ingredients are confused with each other because of their similar names. Amla is an Indian gooseberry in English. It is not the same as an amala dish.
More delicious recipes
Amala Swallows Authentic Recipe
- 2 cups fine yam flour, sifted
- 5 cups boiling water
- To make the amala, start by adding 4 cups of water into a large pot. Cover it with a lid and bring it to a boil.
- Once your water has come to a rolling boil, lower the heat and shoot in all of the yam flour. Immediately start stirring the mixture until all of the ingredients come together.
- Finally, add the remaining cup of boiling water into the pot, cover it, and allow the mixture to steam over very low heat for 3-5 minutes.
- Stir the amala mixture until it is completely smooth and fluffy. You can also alter the consistency of your amala dough during this process.
- Serve spoonfuls of amala with your favorite soup recipe. My amala recipe goes especially well with gbegiri and ewedu soups.