I let myself get behind in blogging again! We cooked our meal from Burkina Faso a couple weeks ago. As with many of the African countries, there was a fairly limited selection of recipes. I ended up with a big one pot meal of riz gras (which apparently translates to “fat rice”), Banfora cookies, and a hibiscus tea drink called bissap.
Riz Gras (recipe)
The best part of this dish is that it was the perfect excuse to use our new enameled cast iron Dutch oven!!! The worst part was the high price tag for lamb meat.
We started by soaking the rice in water. I think we used more rice from our seemingly bottomless bag of Basmati rice for this dish. Then I chopped the onion, tomatoes, carrots, and cabbage.
The onion and tomato were fried with some oil, then the carrots, cabbage, tomato puree (I used tomato paste), and chicken bouillon were added. The recipe didn’t really specify when to add the meat, so we put it in during this step as well.
After that came to a boil, the rice was added.
After half an hour or so, the rice was tender and the meat was cooked. Done!
I found several recipes for this drink throughout the internet, and they all followed the same theme: steep dried hibiscus flowers in hot water, add sugar, then add some other stuff of your choosing. I liked the recipe I am linking to because it listed several common options for additional mix-ins. I read pineapple and lemon juice/lemonade as common additions on several other sites.
I was surprised to find dried hibiscus flowers readily available at our grocery store! They went in the pot with hot water.
I believe we let it steep for fifteen minutes or so. It turned a very deep red color.
We strained it into a pitcher through cheesecloth and let it cool the fridge. We didn’t add any additional mix-ins at this point so that we could try a few different options. After cooling, I added pineapple juice to my glass and Tyler added mint. He couldn’t really taste the mint, so we think it should have gone in while the tea was still hot rather than added once it was cold. He ended up removing the tea leaves and adding pineapple juice too.
I’m not convinced at how traditional/widely consumed these are in Burkina Faso, but I thought they looked quite good. They are described as the Burkinabe version of Welshcakes, which I had not heard of before.
The dough was pretty simple to prepare… mix flour/salt/butter to get a breadcrumb texture, then mix in the remaining ingredients. The most unique ingredient to this was chopped, dried pineapple. The dried pineapple we found had sugar added, so the cookies were probably extra sweet because of this.
The dough was rolled out and cut into circles.
Then it got interesting! Rather than baking these cookies, they are cooked on the stovetop. I didn’t get any pictures of that step, but it felt very similar to making pancakes. I used a little bit of oil to cook them in, but not too much since we have a non-stick griddle. The cookies were topped with a little powdered sugar and cinnamon immediately after being removed from the griddle.
Unfortunately, the riz gras was not a big winner. It was okay–somewhat reminiscent of a beef stew, especially with the carrots–but nothing spectacular. And it made a LOT of food. You’d think we would have learned to scale recipes by now. I think the biggest problem for me was the texture. The high concentration of cabbage wasn’t very pleasant to me. I tried to offset the cabbage and enhance the flavors when we ate leftovers by adding fresh herbs from the garden for flavor and peanuts for crunch, but in the end, a lot of this food ended up in the garbage. 😦
The bissap drink was very good. It was a little too sweet… almost Koolaid-ey, but that is probably from adding sweet pineapple juice in addition to the sugar. I definitely enjoyed this as a cool, summery drink. As an added bonus, the dried hibiscus flowers were surprisingly inexpensive!
The bandora cookies were also very good!! They reminded me of a scone, and I enjoyed coming across the occasional piece of pineapple. I’m sure they were terribly unhealthy with all of the butter/sugar and the fact that they are fried, but they were definitely worth it. I was so glad to end the meal on a high point with these cookies, since the riz gras was not a big hit.