Middle East's only Mind, Body & Spirit Magazine

+971 4 453 8874

March 28, 2018
By Yogalife

Fonio

The new superfood from west africa is similar to quinoa.

The King of New African Cuisine”, Pierre Thiam (pronounced CHEE-AM), as his website introduces him, is a world-renowned chef, restaurateur, and celebrated cookbook author. Based in New York City, Pierre Thiam Catering introduces contemporary interpretations of ethnic flavours to a diverse, savvy clientele including UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon and NBA basketball player Joakim Noah. Thiam is a leading advocate for responsible tourism, as well as a spokesperson for the rich culinary history of Africa and its Diaspora. Pierre has elevated the humble African tiny grained cereal Fonio to a new level. Here, he tells us more about it … Fonio is set to be the “miracle” grain that could transform the economy of the region where it is found. The gluten-free grain, native to Thiam’s birth

WHAT EXACTLY IS FONIO? CAN YOU PLEASE TELL US ABOUT ITS ORIGINS?

Fonio is an ancient grain from West Africa. It’s been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. It is nutritious, gluten-free and drought resistant. It is particularly rich in 2 amino acids (cystine and methionine) that are deficient in most major grains.

HOW AND WHY DID YOU END UP PROMOTING THE VIRTUES OF FONIO?

As a chef based in NY, I wanted to share this delicious miracle grain from my origins, with the growing number of US conscious consumers. Fonio cultivation is good for the environment and it has the potential to bring tremendous economic benefits to the regions of Africa where it is produced. country, Senegal, has been touted as the next quinoa.

HOW DID YOU END UP BECOMING A CHEF IN NY?

I came to the US in the late 80s as a physics and chemistry student. I stumbled upon the restaurant world, it was at first just a job, but I quickly fell in love and never looked back.

YOUR BOOK SAYS, ‘FROM THE SOURCE TO THE BOWL’, WHY NOT A PLATE?

In SОnОgal, we traditionally share our food around a communal bowl, hence the word Bowl.

CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT SENEGALESE FOOD? WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISH?

One of my favourite dishes is an okra and seafood over rice, similar to the gumbo found in New Orleans. We eat a lot of seafood in Senegal because it’s a coastal country. Our daily diet usually comprises grains like rice, millet or Fonio.

IS FONIO KEY TO NATIVE CULTIVATION AND BEING SELFSUFFICIENT IN FOOD IN AFRICA?

Yes, because it is one of the fastest maturing grains, with irrigation, we can potentially have 3 to 4 seasons is a year. comes from Brussels sprouts, leafy greens, broccoli and cabbage.

MANGO FONIO SALAD

Bursting with fresh herbs, lemon, and mango, and super easy to throw together, this healthy grain salad would make a great addition to picnics or potlucks as a side for grilled fish or meat or as a vegetarian main. Think of this salad as a template to which you can add any number of your seasonal produce favourites.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

l Juice of 2 lemons

l/1 teaspoon salt

l/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

l 1 cup olive oil

l 2 cups cooked fonio (recipe follows) or quinoa

l 1 bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped

l 1 bunch mint, leaves finely chopped

l 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced

l ó red onion, finely chopped

l 1 cup red and yellow grape tomatoes, halved

l 1 small cucumber, seeded and diced

l ó cup Spiced Cashews (recipe follows; optional)

Method:

  • In a small bowl, combine the lemo juice with the salt and pepper. Slowly pour in the oil, whisking to emulsify.
  •  Place the fonio in a large bowl and add the parsley, mint, mango, onion tomatoes, and cucumber. Toss well and generously fold in the vinaigrette to taste. (You may have some left over.) Top with the spiced cashews (if using) and serve immediately.

BASIC FONIO

This healthy, gluten-free grain can be used as a side in the same way you would use rice, couscous, or quinoa. These are two basic methods for steaming fonio. You can cook it in a steamer basket (the traditional way) or just in a pot on the stove. I’ve also had success cooking it in the rice cooker, if you have one (keep the ratio of fonio to water 1:1). You can always add a little bit of butter or oil to the fonio while cooking to keep the grains more separated, if you’d like. If you can’t find fonio, quinoa would make a good substitute when it is called for throughout the book.

Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients:

l 1 cup uncooked fonio

l Salt

Method:

  • In a large bowl, wash the fonio grains by submerging in warm water, swishing the grains around with your fingers, then pouring out and replacing the water several times until it runs clear. Drain well.
  • Using a steamer: Place the fonio in the top of a steamer basket lined with damp cheesecloth. Set over simmering salted water, cover, and steam for about 15 minutes. Remove  from the heat and fluff with a fork. Drizzle a few tablespoons of salted water over the fonio and steam again until the grains are completely tender, another 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
  • Without a steamer: Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a medium pot. Stir in the cleaned raw fonio and 1 tablespoon of salt, cover tightly with the lid, and turn the heat to low. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the water is just absorbed. Turn off the heat and gently fluff with a fork, making sure you fluff the bottom where it’s wetter. Cover again for another 5 to 10 minutes, until tender.

SLOW-COOKED LAMB FONIO TABOULEH

Inspired by North African tabouleh, this is a delicious combination full of flavors and colors. The lamb is so tender when shredded that it seems to melt into the fonio. The salad is bright and fresh with cucumber and herbs, and is also a great way to use up leftover lamb dibi.

Lamb – Serves 4

Ingredients:

l 2 lamb shanks (about 11/4

pounds each)

l 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

l 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled, crushed with the side of a knife

l 2 dried bay leaves

l 2 sprigs thyme

l 2 quarts water

l Salt and freshly ground black pepper

l Vinaigrette

l Juice of 2 lemons

l 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

l 1 teaspoon salt

l 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

l 1 cup olive oil

Tabouleh

Ingredients:

l 2 cups cooked fonio

l 1 bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped

l 1 bunch mint, leaves finely chopped

l 1 Kirby cucumber, peeled and diced

l 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

l 1 cup microgreens or baby arugula

l 1/2 cup small green olives, pitted (optional)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 225ÆF.
  • To prepare the lamb: In a large oven-safe pot, such as a Dutch oven, combine the lamb shanks, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and water. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven.
  • Cook for 5 hours, or until the lamb is very tender.
  • Remove from the oven and let the lamb cool in the liquid until it is easy to handle.
  • Remove the lamb from the cooking liquid and set aside. Strain the cooking liquid into a small pot and discard the solids. Over high heat, reduce the liquid by half. Set aside to cool and skim and discard the fat that rises to the top.
  • While the cooking liquid is reducing, shred the lamb and discard the bones, fat, and membranes. Season the lamb with salt and pepper to taste.
  • To prepare the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 cup of the reduced cooking liquid, the lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk to dissolve the salt. Slowly pour in the oil, whisking constantly to emulsify.
  • To prepare the tabouleh: Place the fonio in a large bowl and add the shredded lamb, parsley, mint, cucumber, tomatoes, and microgreens. Toss well and fold in the vinaigrette to taste. (You may have some left over.) Top with the olives (if using). Serve immediately.

 

Yolélé fonio is available online on amazon.com, and in select stores in New York.


READ ALSO...

The Magic of Chia at Seedology

Seedology is the newest addition to the plethora of healthy…

Nourish - June 18, 2018

High Vitamin D Levels Linked to Lower Cholesterol in Children

There is a link between higher serum vitamin D levels…

Nourish - June 13, 2018