Bambara Known as a “complete food”, it is versatile, hardy on marginal soils and highly resistant to adverse weather conditions.
In Nigeria, particularly in the east of the country, you may find it freshly roasted and spilled from the baskets of the women who usually sell it in the market, or more commonly in palm leaves in the form of a thick, sumptuous, yellowish pudding known as ok pa.
Perhaps more often than not, you’ll find it wherever it is found, in the second episode of our cooking podcast – in the form of a sumptuous mashed spread on the bread plate of an upscale menu, lovingly presided over by the young Nigerian culinary star. -increasing, dead Souls.
The 23-year-old chef trained at the prestigious Academy of Culinary Arts in Switzerland before returning to her native Lagos and is one of two guests who will explore this ingredient with us and show us how to cook with it.
Our second guest is Nkechi Idinmachi, a Nigerian entrepreneur who has tapped the potential of this untapped superfood into a food company that sells all Bambara products. Her adventures with beans began when she came up with them as a solution to feed her first child, who was born with a range of allergies to foods like eggs, peanuts, milk, gluten and soy.
Bambara peanut, or Vigna subterranea, to use its scientific name, is what it is considered to be slope crop She often bears nicknames “the poor man’s crop” or “the woman’s crop” It means the kind that is mostly grown for family subsistence rather than for export.
And while Nigeria remains the largest producer of the crop in Africa, growing nearly 100,000 metric tons annually, this figure pales in comparison to cash crops such as maize (12 million metric tons), cassava (60 million metric tons) and potatoes (50 million metric tons). metric tons).
However, its high potential to enhance food security on the continent has not completely escaped the interest of crop scientists and agronomists.
In 2019, the plant was selected as one of the 50 Foods of the Future by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF). Take a quick look at its nutritional profile and weather-resistant credentials, and it’s easy to see why.
As Dr. Emmanuel Basi Ifa, Agronomist at the University of Calabar in Nigeria explains, Bambara peanuts are known as a ‘complete food’, containing 64.4% carbohydrates, 23.6% protein, 5.5% fiber and 6.5% fat with vitamins and minerals. extra. and amino acids in the mix.
In other words, a bowl of Bambara will give you all the nutrients you need to get ready for the day.
Moreover, Bambara groundnuts have been admired for their ability to grow in marginal conditions and to fix nutrients in the soil, thus enhancing the yields of other plants that are grown with them.
“Bambara is very easy to grow,” explains Dr. Affa.
“[It] It has the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, which is very necessary in our area where there is a lot of soil degradation and nutrient loss… It doesn’t require a lot of nutrients by itself to grow, it can be grown on the margins of soil, very poor soil and it will produce yields no matter what. , “Add.
Isolated crop raise
So a nutritious, easy-to-grow, soil-beneficial powerhouse… Then why the inconsistency in landing for such a seemingly iconic legume?
Well, there are a number of issues with the game.
First, raw and unprocessed Bambara takes a really long time to cook. It usually needs a few hours on the boil to be ready to eat – no small consideration for energy-starved communities.
Second, dehulling and preparing the hard-shelled pampara is much more labor intensive than other crops such as cowpeas and groundnuts, and is often done by hand.
But Dr. Affa believes that these problems are not insurmountable. He believes that if Bambara ever escapes its declining situation, it will require attention, research and investment by agricultural bodies to industrialize these processes.
For their part, our guests, Chef Moyo and Nkechi, are determined to put this overlooked bean at the top of the menu—at home in Nigeria and around the world.
“We don’t see Nigerian food as haute cuisine all over the world because we think of it as the food we eat at home, you know, party foods. But it’s not fine dining, you know, it’s French food, it’s Italian food. We pay big money to eat that.” The food is because we think it’s strange or they’re aliens, but our food? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,” Moyo says.
It is written in the inferiority complex of colonialism that tells us that whatever we are is not enough. But we are more than enough.”
As for Nkechi, she says Bambara remains very dear to her heart after her entrepreneurial adventures with food.
“I call it our hero crop. It saved my son,” she says.
“I think when a lot of people know, they learn about the crop, when a lot of people use the crop when the consumption is high, the production will be high. The benefits to the environment will be felt more. So the big goals now should be to find ways to increase the consumption of the bambara So his cultivation can be increased.”
Peanut Bambara Spread with Jurassah Flatbread:
salt, pepper, curry powder (optional)
Palm oil or vegetable oil
For the jurassic bread
Boil the Bambara peanuts for a few hours until they are very soft. You can also pre-soak them to reduce cooking time.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
Add the onions and tomatoes to the skillet and cook until softened
Add the Bambara beads to the skillet.
Add the spices and sauté until the seasoning is well combined.
Mash the bambara nuts in a mortar and pestle or use a blender.
For the jurassic bread
Mix flour, sugar, salt and yeast with water.
Knead the mixture for 5-10 minutes.
Leave it to rise for 30 minutes.
Divide into 50 grams.
Roll it into your desired shape and fry on both sides in a hot skillet with or without oil until browned and cooked through.
If you’re hungry for more recipes and stories about indigenous African ingredients, tune in to the first episode of our series where we talk to Pierre Thiam about the cherished food of his childhood, fonio.
The Star Ingredient podcast was funded by the European Center for Journalism, through Solutions Journalism Accelerator. This fund is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.