As more and more people are looking for alternatives to gluten, the search has brought to light many “ancient grains” that also happen to be superfoods. Fonio is just one example of these superfoods and a celebrated staple in many West African cuisines.
Swap out your white rice for fonio if you are looking to add a mild, nutty flavor to your dish or when you want a gluten-free option packed with nutrients like protein, fiber, and B vitamins. Here are 13 fonio recipes to explore and learn about this grain.
#1. Dark Chocolate Fonio Brownies
You might be surprised to note that you can make brownies out of fonio. If you want a brownie recipe that is still fudgy and chewy without using flour, this is a wonderful recipe to try. Add in some dark chocolate and vanilla extract and you will never want to go to normal brownies again!
#2. Jollof Fonio
You would be remiss to discuss West African dishes without mentioning Jollof — a rice dish cooked in thick tomato stew. Fonio replaces the rice in this recipe to great effect and olive oil can do the same for the vegetable oil. Serve as a side dish at backyard barbeques with grilled meats or vegetables.
#3. Fonio Balls in Peanut Sauce
Spicy and sweet, these molded balls of fonio are deliciously spiced and doused in a creamy coconut and peanut butter sauce. Feel free to reduce some of the cayenne pepper and ground chili if your palate is especially sensitive to heat. Serve it piping hot on a bed of rice or simple greens like spinach.
#4. Fonio Pancakes
Foods high in protein like these fonio pancakes are just one way to reduce the snacking urge after breakfast. The rich, sugary goodness of the maple syrup drizzled on top of these fluffy delights wonderfully complements the nutty flavor of the fonio. Consider using brown sugar for the granulated sugar to get a more complex molasses flavor.
#5. Beef and Fonio Meatballs in a Sweet Potato Stew
Fonio is so versatile you can even use it to replace the breadcrumbs for homemade meatballs. They’re simmered in a lovely sweet potato sauce and garnished with Parmesan. These meatballs tend to crumble more easily than traditional versions but they are well worth the effort for a deliciously hearty meal that everyone will enjoy.
#6. Berry Fonio Crumble
A warm, crispy, fruity crumble is the perfect dessert to cozy up with during the cool months at year’s end. The sea salt in the crust helps balance the sweetness of the dish while enhancing the natural nuttiness of the fonio. You may feel tempted to add more crumble on top but don’t. Let the fresh berries shine through in this lovely dessert.
#7. Honeyed Apple Fonio Bundt Cakes
The small size of these bundt cakes and their refreshing sweetness makes it all too easy to feast on more than one of these mini desserts. The recipe uses almond milk as the binder for fonio to enhance the overall nuttiness of the cakes while enhancing the flavor of fresh apples. Glazed with honey and sweetened almond milk, these cakes are simply irresistible!
#8. Turmeric Coconut Fonio
Seasoned generously with turmeric, the bright orange-yellow of the fonio in this recipe is its signature look. You’ll want to use a white or yellow onion, which is better for cooking, in this recipe. The ingredients in this delicious recipe are already low-fat, but if you want to cut even more calories, use a light coconut milk option.
#9. Fonio Pilaf Chickpea Powerbowl
What better way to eat a balanced and varied diet than eating a rainbow of colors like in this grain bowl. It also means that you have a lot of wonderful flavors seen across Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean come together in a single dish. Serve with lemon wedges for a light, refreshing, and super healthy meal.
#10. Fonio Breakfast Porridge
A veritable fruit medley in a bowl, this breakfast porridge is a sweet delight without any added sugars! Cinnamon adds a wonderful warming spice to balance out the sweetness of the fruits and add some savoriness to the fonio. Serve with some shredded coconut o top, and dig in!
#11. Fonio Salad with Mango & Cashews
Tired of eating Caesar salads and not losing any weight? Spice up your routine by ditching the high-calorie dressing of a traditional salad in favor of nutritional grains like fonio that also make you feel like you ate a whole meal! Combined with flavorsome ingredients like a ripe mango and roasted cashews, this vegan salad is everything you want in a healthy meal.
#12. Fonio Veggie Sliders
It’s hard to resist the desire for handheld foods like burgers when you want something quick, delicious, and on-the-go. The patties are made with fonio and lentils and are packed with protein and fiber. Assemble them with burger buns or lettuce wraps, and pile on your favorite toppings for serving!
#13. Fonio Upma
A fusion of African and Indian cultures, this recipe is a unique take on the classic Indian dish typically made with semolina. The fonio is cooked with peas, carrots, and a variety of spices to create a warming and delicious meal. While traditionally served as a breakfast, you can also pair it with other veggies or curry for a light meal.