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What Is Fonio?

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Fonio is a super grain native to Africa. We’ll explain what it is further including where to find it as well as detail ways to use it.

bowl of fonio grain

What exactly is Fonio?

Fonio is an ancient grain indigenous to West Africa particularly in countries like Senegal, Nigeria, and Chad.  It’s somewhat similar in appearance to quinoa, but is lighter with more of a flavor I’d describe as nutty and a bit earthy. It’s super easy to cook in the same way that couscous is. Fonio requires very little water resources to grow and thrive which explains why it’s had such success in arid regions.

How To Cook Fonio

Most grains are simple to make, i.e. boil and simmer. Fonio is no different, but requires much less attention. The key is to get the ratio of liquid to grain correct; 2 (liquid) to 1 (grain) is pretty standard. You simply bring the grains to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let rest for 5 minutes give or take a minute or two.

Where Can You Buy It?

It’s getting a bit more easy to find it. Early on outside of Africa you could only find it in big city markets like New York, but now you can find it in Whole Foods nationally and ethnic markets that carry Caribbean and African based foods. For creative and interesting varieties of fonio you can order from Yolele Foods online. They make a great product that is both convenient and delicious.

Is Fonio Gluten-free?

It is not only gluten-free but has several different nutritional benefits. Fonio is packed with protein (12g per cup) making it a great source of non-meat based protein. And unlike most grains (rice, wheat, etc.) it is also low carb.

How do you use it?

Fonio can be used any way you make more traditional grains. It can be used as a breakfast porridge, stand-alone side dish, in a one-dish main, etc. For examples consider any of the following recipes:

Overnight Oatmeal

Blackened Shrimp w/ Southwestern Fonio Grain

make this recipe

If you cook with fonio please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

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