Pap, Puff Puff, and Beans


A traditional Cameroonian breakfast with a
tangy porridge, fried dough, and spicy beans



I don’t think I could have chosen a more fun-sounding dish for my second breakfast in this “5 People, 5 Countries, 5 Breakfasts” series. If the name excites you, I can assure you that the multifaceted Cameroonian meal itself lives up to its expectation. The “pap” component is a smoked porridge made from fermented corn, whereas “beans” is a spicy stew, and the “puff puff” is a sweet, fried dough. Each element holds its own in this dish, and, when combined, they tie together beautifully.

This recipe is brought to us by Akom, who resides in Limbe in Cameroon. Growing up, she ate pap, puff puff, and beans on Saturday mornings and during the holidays. Whether Akom and her family members needed energy for chores, hard work, or a long day of fun, festive activities, they could always rely on this dish. Now, Akom associates pap, puff puff, and beans with laughter, mornings, family, and friendship, and I believe this comfort dish is sure to evoke similar feelings of comfort should you venture out and try it!

Also known as “achombo and pap” or “achombo” throughout surrounding regions, this delicious, affordable, and filling dish contains contrasting yet complementary flavors which appeal to many. Although Cameroon is an immensely diverse country, pap, puff puff, and beans is enjoyed by all people throughout. Many people find the sale of just this dish to be a reliable livelihood in Cameroon.

The pap possesses a milder taste from the corn flavor than its rival element; beans is made from frying either boiled black beans or real kidney beans with any spicy vegetable of your choice, so it definitely has more of a kick. However, the light, fluffy puff puff is sweet and able to be combined with both the pap and beans in a delectably balanced bite. 

I do want to note that the pap has a sweet and sour flavor and a pudding-like texture that is unlike anything else I’ve eaten! In addition, the beans component is very spicy at first but becomes easier to manage as you continue eating. Consuming pap, puff puff, and beans is an experience you should embrace. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Cameroonian food is often overlooked in the U.S. and other regions, so I think it would be a beautiful addition to the rotation. If you start with pap, puff puff, and beans, you’re bound to fall in love with Cameroonian cuisine.

Watch the Video

Pap, Puff Puff, and Beans


For pap, go ahead and find a store-bought mix

For puff puff

  • 2 cups warm water (+ 1-2 Tbsp more water as needed)
  • 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 ½ cups flour
  • ½-¾ cups sugar
  • ½ Tbsp salt
  • oil for deep frying

For beans

  • 1 can red kidney beans drained and rinsed 
  • 1 small yellow onion sliced
  • 1 small tomato roughly chopped 
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper stem removed
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 Tbsp palm oil 
  • 1 Maggi cube
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil 


Make pap according to package instructions.

    To make puff puff

    • Mix salt, sugar, water, and yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes.
    • Add flour and mix.
    • Let the mixture rise for approximately 1- 2 hours
    • In a large, saucepan pour vegetable oil into a pot, until it is at least 3 inches (or about 5 centimeters) high (too little will result in flatter balls), and place on low heat.
    • Test to make sure the oil is hot enough by putting a ‘drop’ of batter into the oil. If it is not hot enough, the batter will stay at the bottom of the pot rather than rising to the top.
    • Using your hands, grab a little bit of mixture at time and drop in the oil.
    • When the oil is hot enough, use a spoon to dish up the batter, and another spoon or spatula to drop it in the oil, sort of in the shape of a ball.
    • Fry for a few minutes until the bottom side is golden brown.
    • Turn the ball over and fry for a few more minutes until the other side is golden brown.
    • Use a large spoon or something like that to take it out of the oil. I usually place them on napkins right away to soak up some of the excess oil.
    • If desired, you can roll the finished product in table sugar or powdered sugar to make it sweeter.

    To make beans

    • Combine tomato and pepper in a blender to pureé until smooth (add a little water to loosen if needed).
    • Heat palm oil in a pan and add the onions. Sauté until just softened, about 10 minutes. 
    • Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about a minute or two.
    • Add tomato/pepper pureé, the maggi cube, and basil. Let maggi dissolve and bring to a simmer before adding beans. 
    • Simmer until liquid has reduced slightly and beans have become a stew, 15-20 minutes. Serve with pap and puff puff!


    Recipe inspired by African Bites
    Course: Breakfast
    Region: Africa
    Keyword: Comfort food


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