While foodie culture reaches new heights in the West, the staple diet of many in the Sahel is millet. It’s the polar opposite of junk food, taking hours to prepare and being super nutritious. Our video shows a Fulani girl in Ouagadougou preparing nyiiri, which is the daily food for many Fulani in the North, except for special occasions when goat meat, rice or pasta and tomato sauce is eaten.
It requires stamina and strength to make nyiiri (Fulfulde, or To in Moré), even without having to walk to the pump for water. The grain is pounded and mixed with water. It is cooked and served as a large grey ball of hot dough in a bowl around which groups of men or women (never mixed) will sit to eat. With the right hand only, lumps are torn off and dipped in a gloopy sauce, typically made from baobab leaves or okra.
It may be packed with goodness but my domestic science teacher at school would have scored it zero for ‘plate appeal’. No matter – the Fulani prefer to eat in the dark anyway. Usually it would be made as an evening meal and the cold left-overs for breakfast. We even found a saddlemaker using it as glue the next day. Now that’s what I call resourceful.