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Fonio: Quick Cooking African Grain (like Grits or Cous Cous)

I saw this myrecipes.com article on Flipboard and it appealed to me because I like quick meal ideas. Although sometimes I like to make things from scratch that may take hours or a couple days. I'm weird. Haha!

The article was about fonio, which is something I had never heard of. Fonio is "a West African grain that is gluten-free, super-sustainable to grow, and high in protein."


There aren't a lot of fonio recipes around. I found some good information on thecanadianafrican.com and I made a dish that was inspired by the Ghanaian dish featured on her website. One preparation is with a tomato stew, curry powder and cayenne pepper.

More on Fonio:

"Fonio is a small but mighty grain indigenous small millet to the Sahel regions Africa (running from as far west as Senegal to just south of Egypt). It gets it name from the wolof word foño, a tribe in Senegal. It is consumed by various tribes across the Sahel and used in different side dishes. It serves a role very similar to rice in tribes where it is a much more integral part of the diet. Currently white fonio is more popular than black fonio because it is grown more through out the Western Sahel region. Black fonio is really only grown in certain countries like Nigeria."


What I used:

- Fonio

- Charred tomatoes (frozen and defrosted, thawed that I had batch prepped before )


- Garam Masala

- Cayenne pepper

I didn't have any curry powder; I thought I did. I had some garam masala, which I'm aware is not curry powder, but it might have some curry powder in it. Haha! :) It has a little heat or smokiness, so I thought it would taste good with them. Instead of a tomato stew, I just put some charred tomatoes on it.

On the package, it said to rinse it and get rid of what floats at the top (left photo). I just put it in a bowl and carefully poured off the top. Then I added some boiling water and the spices. I lowered the heat and let it simmer.

It cooks in 5 minutes! A lot like cous cous.

I added some tomatoes on top. That's it!

I love that it cooks fast! Though I suppose it's exotic and from West Africa, it tastes like grits to me! It tastes more like grits than polenta to me. And it's creamy without adding butter or oil (bonus!). So it's like a healthier version of grits. Like cous cous, it basically tastes like nothing, so you have to add flavor to it. Btw, you can control the texture with how much water you add. :) More like rice or cous cous with slightly less water; more like grits or creamier with more water.

I also liked the flavors of tomatoes and spices in a West African-inspired dish. But you can basically flavor it with whatever you like.

Since it tasted like grits, I'm going to experiment and substitute it for grits in Shrimp and Grits. Check out that post.

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Give it a try! We are good at this!

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