Foutah Djallon – a culinary journey through West Africa

It’s December and Berlin is dark, grey and cold. To make matters worse, the world is confronting a pandemic. Public places and groups of people are to be avoided. In stark contrast, the cookbook Foutah Djallon begins with an anecdote set on the West African Atlantic coast, in humid July, in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a market. I am more than pleased to let Mamadou Oury Balde, Carla Behringer and Eva Behringer, who edited this book, take me on one of the few kinds of trip open to me right now: a taste journey.

The book is beautifully designed, and includes everything from street food and snacks to soups, main courses, desserts and drinks. Ingredients that may be little-known in Germany, such as taro, the tuber of the taro plant, or ogbono, mango seeds, are explained at the beginning, and the authors point out that they are available in African or Asian stores.

The book is not exclusively vegetarian, but for the moment, I’ve kept to cooking vegetarian recipes that only include ingredients I can get in any supermarket – like Guinean sweet potato soup with spicy coconut topping, very delicious. I’m already looking forward to finally getting my hands on some plantains to make black bean stew with fried plantain. Aside from the more difficult to obtain ingredients, all the recipes seem easy to make. For shuku shuku, a Nigerian coconut pastry, all you need is coconut flakes, vanilla sugar, sugar, baking powder, egg yolk and flour for dusting. The whole is kneaded, formed into balls, rolled in flour and baked in the oven for 12 minutes.

Since I usually rarely make peanut sauces or bake with cassava, there is definitely a lot of culinary inspiration in this book for me. Take a look for yourself – I recommend Foutah Djallon to everyone who likes fried, hearty and fruity-sweet flavours.

(The book is only available in German)