Wednesday 15 June 2022

Fonio (Acha) - Ancient African Grain with Tons of Nutrients

Native to West Africa and considered the oldest cereal in Africa, fonio is a little-known gluten-free grain (technically a seed, though it is often classed and used as a grain) that resembles quinoa and couscous. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Hungry Rice’ and has a mild nutty taste. The cereal is so tiny that it only takes 3 minutes to cook. 

It is cultivated in the central region of Nigeria, particularly in Plateau and Bauchi states. There are two main species - black fonio and white fonio. 

Fonio is protein-rich, high in fibre, a great source of iron, zinc, phosphorous and calcium. It also contains a range of essential amino acids and will provide you with vitamins b1 and b3. It has a low glycemic index, making it an excellent alternative to white rice. 

It can be cooked plain like rice, ground into a flour for baking and to make swallow, or added to stir fries and salads. In Plateau state and other parts of northern Nigeria, it is the main ingredient in the preparation of the traditional delicacy, Gwate Acha (fonio porridge). 

Gwate Acha

Gwate Acha: this savoury porridge is a mix of fonio and highly nutritious vegetables. It also goes by other names such as Pete Acha, Gote, Gwete and Tere. You can find the full recipe in my cookbook Vegan Nigerian Kitchen.

Wondering where to buy fonio? You can find it online or in health stores such as Planet Organic.

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