Fried Fonio & Minced Meat

Fonio looks like the next cereal that will take the food scene by storm. Since my visit to Jos last year I have fallen in love with Fonio also called Acha locally. With its great nutritional qualities and short cooking time, Fonio or Acha is a cereal that should be featured more regularly in our meals.

The challenge encountered with using local Fonio in some places is the ability to wash and remove sand. Locally the women use calabash to wash and this gets out all the sand. Fortunately packaged products where all the sand has been removed are now available in shops in northern Nigeria where Acha dishes are more popular. I have found the local variant in markets in the south particularly in settlements where northerners reside.

The benefit of eating cereal based foods lies in the lower glycemic index. The glycemic index of the carbohydrate food indicates its impact on our blood sugar level. Cereal carbohydrates like Fonio require release glucose more slowly into the bloodstream so that available insulin can digest the glucose. Root carbohydrate like yam or cassava on the other hand release glucose more rapidly therefor requires more insulin. This is why it is recommended that diabetic patients eat more of cereal based carbohydrates but of course in very controlled portions.

Acaha is used for morning pottages, swallow and other dishes. I am set on a journey to increase the variety of dishes we can cook with this interesting cereal grain.
Recipe for Fried Fonio & Minced Meat

1 cup Fonio

½ cup Minced Meat

1 table spoon butter

1 clove Garlic (minced)

1 piece bay leaf

Scotch Bonnet Pepper to taste

¼ Onions

Handful Spinach

2 cooking spoons Oil

Coriander (optional)

Seasoning cubes to taste

Salt to taste

  1. Season minced meat with chopped coriander, beef seasoning, garlic, salt and black pepper and allow to marinade for a 30 minutes. You may wish to sprinkle on a little water to allow the seasoning permeate the meat.
  2. Heat the oil, fry the onion and pepper till translucent.
  3. Add the seasoned minced meat and stir to separate the meats as it cooks so it does not form one solid ball.
  4. Separate the minced meat well, lower the heat and cover the pot and allow meat to cook till soft. You may want to add very little water for the mince to cook properly.
  5. In the meantime rinse the Fonio in cold water, strain and set aside. Heat the butter, fry a little onion with a little salt and pour in the Fonio and stir fry. When it has fried properly, add a little chicken stock at a time, cover and cook. If you don’t have chicken stock, you can use chicken seasoning cubes and cook in water. Use a fork to spread the cereal so it does not get lumpy.
  6. When Fonio is soft, stir into minced meat sauce with the spinach, cook together for a few minutes and serve warm.

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