Pella gofio, a tasty Canarian dish

The pella, pella gofio or gofio ball, is a preparation of humble origin that is part of the traditional diet of the Canary Islands. It is usually prepared by kneading it, in a basin or a "zurrón". From the mixture, made basically with gofio, water and salt, we have as a final result a perfectly compact and solid, but soft mortar, which serves as a complement in different traditional dishes of the Canarian gastronomy.

History of this traditional dish

The pella, like other culinary expressions based on gofio, was an essential food for the Amazigh peoples of the Canary archipelago. This food was used as an accompaniment to meals as bread.

After European colonization and in times of famine and food shortages, gofio pella continued to be part of the popular Canarian diet, thanks to the simplicity of its ingredients and its high nutritional value.

Gofio, the main ingredient and superfood

Gofio, the main ingredient of this preparation, has been recognized as a Geographical Indication with Protected Designation of Origin "Gofio canario" since February 10, 2014. 

What it is and a bit of its history

Gofio is a food made mainly from millet or wheat. There are different varieties depending on the grain used, the roasting and the salt added. With a dry and penetrating aroma, Canarian gofio has a high nutritional value, which is why it has been a very recurrent product in the kitchens of the islands in times of famine.

It looks like a yellow colored flour, which also varies according to the grain and the roasting to which it has been subjected. It is not usually consumed alone. Although nowadays it is made with mechanical systems, the basis of the traditional way of elaboration is preserved.

The natives of the islands already consumed gofio and after the conquest of the Canary Islands, the variety of cereals increased. Until then, only wheat and barley were used. The pre-Hispanic inhabitants toasted the cereals in clay vessels and ground them with basaltic stones. After the discovery of America and the commercial ties that were created, a new cereal arrived in the Canary Islands, the millet or corn, which was immediately welcomed in all the islands.

It was a very popular food during the Spanish civil war and post-war period and an indispensable product for the long boat trips of the emigrants from the islands. Nowadays, it is a product that is present both in homes and in haute cuisine restaurants, although consumption tends to be higher in villages and areas with fewer resources.

Varieties and ways of preparing pella gofio

As in all the culinary formulas of the Macaronesian Archipelago, there is no single recipe for its preparation, but respecting the basic components we can classify the pellas in:

Pella salada. Made with gofio, water or fish broth, olive oil, a little sugar and salt.

Pella dulce. Made with gofio, water, honey, dried fruits (almonds, figs and/or raisins) and a touch of salt. Another ingredient usually used in this variety of pella is ripe bananas.

How to prepare a sweet gofio pella


200 g of gofio de millo, 100 ml of water, a pinch of salt, 50 ml of honey, 25 g of raisins and 50 g of almonds.


First, pour the gofio in a bowl together with the salt and water, mix and knead lightly (it will be as if it were a wet and loose earth, with the honey it will get the right texture). Then add the honey, mix and knead until a compact dough is obtained.

Toast the almonds in a frying pan without oil and chop them into medium-sized pieces. Finally, add the almonds and the raisins to the gofio and knead again so that everything is integrated. Shape the gofio into an elongated cylinder and present it cut into thick slices... And enjoy!

If you are interested in the world of products made in the Canary Islandsand want to know more about them, here are several articles related to Canarian cheese: Denomination of Origin of Canarian cheeses; Queso de Flor, wonder of Gran Canaria; Almogrote, everything you should know about Canarian cheese pate.

Paula Vera



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