Guyanese duff is a type of steamed dumpling that is very similar to Chinese steamed buns. It is mostly steamed on top of metemgee. Although in many families it is made independent of metemgee and served with salt fish or fish stew. I love duff! My dad makes the most amazing duff and he calls them tigers! I am not quite sure why. Although duff is simple to make, it's also easy to mess it up and end up with heavy, undercooked dumplings instead of soft, fluffy, delicious duff. The best way I can describe them is that they are the steamed version of Guyanese bakes.
You will find the following in this post:
- Tips for perfectly steamed duff
- Different ways to steam duff
- How to serve duff
- How to make gluten free Guyanese Duff
Tips for cooking duff perfectly:
1. Do Not Overwork the dough
Guyanese Duff can be a little delicate, and sometimes it seems that anything can make them fall (not rise to their true fluffy potential). As much as you may want to knead the dough into a really smooth dough ball, try to resist this. The best duff, has a textured exterior and fluffy inside. Knead your dough for 3 to 5 minutes then let it rest before separating into the individual duff.
2. Form your dough into all of the duff before adding to the pot
This step is very important for even cooking of all of the duff. Do not try to shape the dough ball pieces into duff as you drop them into the boiling water or metemgee. Shape all of them, then transfer them to the pot at the same time. The faster you can cover and steam the duff, the better the results.
3. Do not open the pot while the duff in steaming
Changing the temperature and pressure of the pot, can cause your duff to fall, just like a cake falls. My mom warned me never to open the pot once the duff is steaming. Wait until the time is up and you are ready to remove the duff.
4. Remove the duff immediately from the pot or steamer
Once the time is up, remove the duff immediately from the pot or steamer and serve or set aside. If you let the duff remain in the pot it will continue to steam and will eventually dry out, crust over or become stiff.
Different Ways to steam (cook) Guyanese duff
Duff is typically steamed on top of ground provision (starchy root vegetables) in metemgee or boil and fry. Since the ground provision provide a base that allows the duff to sit about the soupy liquid, it is perfect for steaming duff. Here are some other ways to steam duff, in case you want duff but are not making anything that requires ground provision:
Steamed in a shallow pot of water:
If you are making duff to eat with stew or salt fish, you can steam your duff in a shallow pot or a deep pan with a tight light. Add about 4 cups of water to your pot or pan, bring it to a boil and then add your duff.
Steamed in a coconut milk broth:
The most delicious version of duff without metemgee, is duff steamed in a coconut milk broth. Use the ingredients for the coconut milk base for my metemgee recipe, then when it comes up to a roaring boil add your duff. I promise you won't regret this.
Use a steamer basket:
If you have an Always Pan this makes duff making easy, whether you have the steamer basket add on or not. I steam my Guyanese duff directly in the pan or in the steamer basket and they are always perfectly cooked. Don't have an Always pan? Use this link to get get your first pan today!
Steamed then fried:
I recently discovered that some Guyanese people steam, then fry their duff. At first I thought why wouldn't you just make bakes instead of doing all of this? However after trying it for myself it really is a very different experience. The steamed then fried duff has a very crunchy exterior and soft airy interior. It is perfect for stews!
How to serve this deliciousness
Most Guyanese people only serve duff with metemgee or boil and fry ground provisions. However, in my family also serves duff on it own, with a side of sautéed salt fish or fish stew. Dipping pieces of duff in a delicious fish stew gravy is a mouth watering experience.
How to make Gluten Free Guyanese Duff
To make gluten free duff, simply swap out the All Purpose Wheat Flour, for all purpose gluten free flour. There are two all purpose gluten free flours that I have tested with this recipe and both work really well: Caputo gluten free flour and King Arthur's measure for measure gluten free flour. With the Caputo flour the duff looks, feels and tastes exactly like the wheat version. With the King Arthur's flour it is a bit more grainy in texture but the taste is spot on.
Guyanese Duff (Steamed Dumplings)
- 2 cups all purpose flour or Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon room temperature butter
- ¾ cup warm water plus 4 cups of water for cooking.
- Add flour, sugar and baking powder to a mixing bowl, then mix together well
- Next, rub butter into dry ingredients using your hands
- Then form a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add water starting with ¾ cup and then a bit more if needed
- Knead for 3 to 5 minutes, into a soft dough
- Then cover with a damp paper towel or kitchen towel and let rest for 30 mins
- When ready to cook separate the dough into 6 even pieces, roll pieces into elongated balls
- Then add 4 cups of water to a shallow pot or a deep pan with a tight lid and bring to a boil
- Add the dough balls to the boiling water and cover the pot tight. You may also use a steamer basket for this step if you have one
- Then reduce heat to medium and steam dough balls for 15 minutes
- After 15 minutes remove duff from the pot and place in a serving dish. Serve with metemgee, soup or your favorite stews.
This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.