Assignment 7: Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso

Location: West Africa
Population: 18.5 million
Capital: Ouagadougou
Geography: A landlocked nation of alternating plains and small mountains.
Language: French and Mòoré
Signature flavours: Beans, tomato, peanut

The Menu

Over this culinary journey, I am learning that there is something people are saying the world over: If in doubt, make a stew. Whether it’s goulash or caldillo, or in the case of Burkina Faso, maan nezim nzedo, folks just can’t get enough of a hearty stew.

I had a little trouble finding recipes from Burkina Faso at first, finally opting for two out of the World Cookbook: The Greatest Recipes from Around the Globe. It wasn’t until later, when Eric suggested searching for recipes in French, that I uncovered plenty of resources, but by then, my menu was set. It was a good lesson for next time, though.

Maan Nezim Nzedo: A tomato-based catfish stew, featuring rice, okra, green beans, and cabbage.

Prep and cook time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: 1/5

Fried Bean Cakes: Deep fried black-eyed-pea, onion, and carrot patties.

Prep and cook time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: 3/5

The Shopping List

I found catfish at a high-end supermarket (our local one doesn’t have a fish counter). Everything else, including okra, was found at our regular grocery store.

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Okra (frozen)

The Meal

The stew was a no-brainer. If you can chop vegetables and chuck them into a pot, you can make maan nezim nzedo. I found the broth overly acidic at first, and balanced the acidity with a bit of white sugar. To be honest, I am not a fan of catfish. It’s a bottom feeder, and in my opinion, we should just leave it to feeding at the bottom. But since Burkina Faso is landlocked, river fish are the go-to seafood staple. I do really like okra, though, and the stew was nice and hearty — great for a cold December evening.

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The bean cakes gave me a bit of trouble. I’m still new to deep frying and they tended to fall apart or burn. The flavour was nice, and the texture was a satisfying mix of crunch and squish. Eric liked them a lot and said I should make them again. Next time, I think more beans and less carrot would make a firmer paste to work with, and I would keep the oil at a lower temperature.

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A paste of black-eyed-peas, onion, carrot, and egg

Links:

Disclaimer: I’m not a professional chef. I’m just a passionate cook with a curiosity for flavours I’ve never tried. For great recipes from gifted local cooks, follow the links above.

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