Banku (Stirred Fermented Corn Dough) Recipe

Banku pairs beautifully with grilled fish or eggplant and okra stews.

| June 2019

Photo by Getty Images/Jacek_Sopotnicki

Fermented corn dough can either be homemade, bought frozen, or prepared from a powder mix. If using powdered “instant” banku, first add water to make the dough, then proceed as with already prepared dough.  

Makes 4 servings


  • 1-1/2 cups homemade fermented corn dough, with any mold scraped off, or frozen packaged banku dough (corn and cassava), defrosted
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. In a 3-quart saucepan with a handle, mix the dough with 1-1/2 cups water by hand or with a wire whisk to make a smooth paste. Mix in the salt.
  2. Put on the stove to heat on medium-high, stirring constantly with the whisk or with a stirring stick or very strong wooden spoon. After 5 minutes, the mixture should begin to thicken. Lower the heat to medium and switch over to a stirring stick or wooden spoon if previously using a whisk.
  3. Continue to cook, stirring constantly to keep it from forming lumps, scraping the bottom of the pan and turning the dough as it cooks, also pressing it against the sides of the pan. After another 5 minutes, turn the heat to low and continue stirring and turning. Scrape the spoon against the side of the saucepan occasionally and mix the scrapings into the dough. If necessary, add a little water around the edges of the pan to keep it from scorching, and/or turn down the heat.
  4. The banku should be quite stiff within 15 to 20 minutes on the stove. Remove it from the heat and let it sit a few minutes. When it is cool enough to handle, wet your hands and shape the banku into one large or several small loaves for individual servings.

To serve: Banku is usually eaten warm or lukewarm. It is a classic accompaniment to eggplant and okra stews, as well as grilled tilapia. It is also eaten with a pepper sauce and/or shito.

Banku is commonly shaped into balls using plastic wrap (placing the plastic wrap over a bowl, adding a large spoonful of dough, wrapping one side of the plastic wrap over a side and then folding over the other side, holding and twisting both edges and rotating the packet to make a smooth ball. While this is common practice in Ghana to keep the balls sanitary, my materials scientist husband believes it to be an unhealthy practice, so I recommend forming the balls without plastic wrap. Instead, form the balls by wetting a calabash or flat bowl, add the cooked banku and shape it into a smooth rounded loaf by shaking and turning the bowl.

More from The Ghana Cookbook:

Cover courtesy of Hippocrene Books



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