Fonio, known in Nigeria as Acha is the smallest, and one of the fastest growing grains in the millet family. Though couscousesque, it is a wholegrain, versus couscous which is milled from durum wheat, and they cook up in a similar way.
There are two varieties of fonio across West Africa – white (Digitaria exilis) and black (Digitaria iburua). One of the most nutritious of all grains, it is rich in methionine and cystine, two amino acids vital to human health and not common in majority of popular grains like wheat, sorghum.
It is one of the oldest recognised grains, revered in some cultures - the Dogon of Mali believe it is 'the seed of the universe' from where the Earth sprouted, creating the catalyst for the Big Bang; and in ancient Egypt, the grain was found in the burial grounds of The Pyramids.
In a pan, heat up a tablespoon or two of oil. Add the fonio and fry, about 5 minutes till grains are lightly toasted. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the same pan and stir-fry your mixed vegetables, for 2 – 3 minutes. Season lightly with salt then return the fonio to the pan and stir to combine, adding dried fruits and nuts
Pour over 1 cup of water or stock, stirring well. Allow to cook on low heat. Check after a few minutes and if not as soft as you’d like, add another ½ - 1 cup of water, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 - 10 minutes or until cooked to your taste
Allow it sit for another 10 and then fluff the grains with a fork – by raking up and through.
Serve warm: with cranberry or hibiscus sauce and a soft boiled egg; or make a Buddha bowl
For the first 9 years of my life I hated food and really loved sugar till Wimpy (British Fast Food chain) changed my life! These days, all grown up, I've junked junk food and spend my days and nights on a quest - to find and share the sweet, sweet nectar that's food in The #NewNigerianKitchen!
Dreaming, cooking, eating and writing...about and adoring a strong food community that's big and bold enough to embrace the world's diverse cuisines - I'm passionate about celebrating Nigerian cuisine in its entirety.
Why do I love food so? It is forgiving. Make a recipe. Have it go bad....but wake up tomorrow and you can have another go at succeeding! Only with food!