Author Notes: 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.
I like to toast in a dry pan till golden before using in recipes —Kitchen Butterfly
Olive/ coconut oil
cup mixed vegetables (bell peppers, onions, spring onions, carrots, green beans etc)
Some dried fruits (Raisins, dates, apricots)
Seasoning - salt, berbere, mixed herbs etc
To serve: Soft-boiled eggs, peanuts and other nuts/ dried fruit, salad greens & herbs, avocado, sauces
- 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