Authentic Nigerian Masa Recipe – Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Making Fermented Rice Cake Balls

Authentic Nigerian Masa Recipe - Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Making Fermented Rice Cake Balls

Discover the irresistible crunch and tangy flavor of these traditional Nigerian Masa (rice cakes), perfect for any meal or snack!

Embark on a culinary journey with masa, a beloved Northern Nigerian delicacy also known as waina. These spherical fermented cakes boast a soft, spongy interior and a crispy exterior, making them a versatile treat for any time of day. Enjoy them sweet with a drizzle of honey and fresh fruits, or savor them savory alongside suya (spiced beef skewers) and yaji (suya spice blend). The possibilities are endless with these delightful rice cake balls!

Masa’s unique texture and flavor profile come from a combination of soaked tuwo rice, cooked rice, yeast, sugar, and salt. While the traditional recipe uses specific ingredients, you can experiment with rice flour, millet, cornmeal, wheat, or semolina for exciting variations. The batter can be sweetened, flavored with onions or ginger, or customized to your taste preferences.

This recipe yields a sweet masa with a slight tang from yogurt, which aids in fermentation. The result is a deliciously chewy treat with fragrant rice aromas and a subtle sourdough flavor. Get ready to impress your family and friends with these authentic Nigerian rice cakes!


  • 1 cup (200g) uncooked tuwo rice or Thai jasmine rice (see note)
  • Filtered water
  • 1/4 cup (50g) cooked white rice
  • 1/2 small red or white onion (30g), roughly chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) full-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (5g) instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (5g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; if using table salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2g) baking powder
  • Peanut or vegetable oil, for greasing


  1. Begin by washing the rice thoroughly. In a medium bowl, cover the rice with room temperature water and swish vigorously for 30 seconds. Drain using a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the cloudy water. Return the rice to the bowl and cover with fresh filtered water. Let it soak at room temperature for 6 to 12 hours. The rice will whiten, soften, and develop a light, sweet aroma.
  2. After soaking, drain the rice well. In a high-powered blender, combine the soaked rice, cooked rice, onion (if using), yogurt, 1 tablespoon sugar, yeast, salt, and 1/4 cup filtered room temperature water. Blend until you achieve a smooth, thick, and creamy batter, about 30 seconds.
  3. Pour the batter into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. For sweet masa, ferment at warm room temperature (about 75°F/24°C) for about 2 hours until puffy and domed on top with a sweet rice aroma. For a tangier flavor, ferment for 6 hours or overnight. The batter will rise and collapse, developing a yeasty, beer-like aroma.
  4. Once fermented to your liking, whisk in the baking powder and remaining sugar. This step ensures a uniform batter and adds extra fluffiness to your masa. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of filtered room temperature water and set aside.
  5. Grease each well of an aebleskiver pan with oil. Heat the pan over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add 2 tablespoons of batter to each well, leaving about 1/8-inch space at the top. As the batter cooks, watch for bubbles forming on the surface and the edges beginning to dry.
  6. When a cooked rim about 1/8-inch thick forms (the center will still be liquid), use a chopstick, skewer, or spoon to flip the masa. Continue cooking, flipping 3 to 4 times, until the masa is crunchy and deep golden brown all over, about 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a serving plate and partially cover to keep warm.
  7. Repeat the process with the remaining batter, re-greasing the wells as needed. Reduce heat if the pan starts to smoke or the masa browns too quickly.


Tuwo rice, also known as masa or sinasir rice, is similar to Thai jasmine rice. If you can’t find tuwo rice, Thai jasmine rice is an excellent substitute. Long-grain converted rice can also be used in a pinch.

Feel free to halve the recipe if you have a small blender, or double it for a larger batch.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Drained soaked rice can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Prepare the blended rice mixture in advance (without yeast) and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. When ready to continue, stir in the yeast and proceed with fermentation.

Masa batter can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. It may thin and sour over time. To thicken, whisk in all-purpose flour or rice flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the batter reaches the consistency of heavy cream.

Cooked masa can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days. To reheat, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave until hot and soft, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
282 Calories
18g Fat
27g Carbs
3g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 282
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 24%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 547mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 54mg 4%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 64mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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