Black-eyed bean fritters (Burkina Faso)

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa, perhaps best known for its funnily named capital of Ouagadougou (which at least in Finland commonly features in quizzes). It is a former colony of France. About 2/3 of the people are Muslims and 1/4 are Christian, though animist beliefs are also widely incorporated in religious practice. The country is known for its mud buildings – not just simple houses, but e.g. elaborate mosques. Ceramics, theatre and literature (originally based on oral tradition) and more recently cinema, are important forms of culture. Many kinds of sports are popular, but especially football. Despite gold being its main export, Burkina Faso ranks as the third least developed country in the world. HIV prevalence is low, but the life expectancy is still only 50/52.

The Burkinabé cuisine uses many starches, such as millet, sorghum, fonio, corn, yams and rice. As in many West African countries, a popular dish is fufu, a kind of cassava dough, often served with peanut soup. Sumbala is a local fermented condiment paste somewhat similar to miso. Fish, chicken, mutton, goat and yoghurt are eaten, as are carrots, turnips, eggplants, avocados, sweet potatoes, zucchini, beets, leeks, potatoes, okra, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber, pumpkin, sorrel and spinach. Most desserts are based on banana, though many other fruits are also eaten a lot. A popular drink is bissap, made from roselle (a type of hibiscus) petals. There are also several kinds of drinks made from millet.

These Burkinabé black-eyed bean cakes were okay, but nothing very exciting. The lack of spices isn’t too bothersome, since they’re meant to be comfort food like anyway, it’s more about the texture, starchy and flour-like mash. Perhaps it was because I forgot to rub off the bean skins?

Black-eyed bean fritters

Black-eyed bean fritters

400 g/0.9 lbs dried black-eyed beans
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 small carrots, chopped
substitute for 1 egg (if using a dry egg replacer like soy flour, don’t add any liquid)
salt and black pepper to taste
flour for coating
peanut or palm oil for frying

Soak the beans overnight. Drain and rub them between your fingers to remove the skins. Cook until soft, 45-60 minutes. Drain and let cool for a bit.

Blend all the ingredients together. Form into balls and flatten into discs. Dip them in flour and shallow fry in the oil on medium heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Serve hot, perhaps with tomato sauce (they’re quite bland by themselves).

Serves 5-6 people.


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