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Podcast | Cooking with Bambara Groundnut – an indigenous, African superfood


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In Nigeria, significantly within the East of the nation, you may discover Bambara groundnuts freshly roasted and spilling from the hampers of the ladies who sometimes promote it at market, or extra generally tucked into palm leaves in a thick and luxurious, yellowish pudding referred to as Okpa.

Maybe much less ceaselessly, you’ll discover it the place we do within the second episode of our culinary podcast – within the type of an opulent, puréed unfold on the bread course of a fine-dining menu, lovingly presided over by younger Nigerian culinary star-on-the-rise, Moyo Odunfa.

The 23-year-old chef educated on the prestigious Culinary Arts Academy of Switzerland earlier than returning to her native Lagos, and is certainly one of two friends who will discover this ingredient with us and present us how you can cook dinner with it.

Our second visitor is Nkechi Idinmachi, a Nigerian entrepreneur who leveraged the potential of this underutilised superfood right into a meals firm, Machi Meals, promoting all issues Bambara. Her adventures with the bean started when she came across it as an answer to feeding her first little one who was born with a bunch of allergic reactions to meals like eggs, peanuts, milk, gluten and soybeans.

A dietary powerhouse

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Bambara Groundnut, or Vigna subterranea, to make use of its scientific identify, is what’s thought of a relegated crop typically bearing the sobriquets of ‘poor man’s crop’ or ‘lady’s crop’ which means one that’s predominantly grown for family subsistence moderately than export.

And whereas Nigeria stays the biggest producer of the crop in Africa, cultivating roughly 100,000 metric tonnes every year, this determine pales compared to that of money crops like maize (12 million mt), cassava (60 million mt )and yams (50 million mt).

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And but, its excessive potential for bolstering meals safety on the continent has not totally escaped the eye of crop scientists and agronomists.

In 2019, the plant was chosen as certainly one of 50 meals of the long run by the World Wildlife Basis (WWF). Take a fast look at its dietary profile and local weather resilient credentials and it’s straightforward to see why.

As Dr. Emmanuel Bassey Effa, an agronomist on the College of Calabar in Nigeria, explains, the Bambara Groundnut is called a ‘full meals’, containing 64.4% carbohydrates, 23.6% protein, 5.5% fibre and 6.5% fat with further nutritional vitamins, minerals and amino acids within the combine.

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A bowl of Bambara, in different phrases, provides you with all of the vitamins it’s essential set you up for the day.

Past that, bambara groundnut has received admiration for its capability to develop in marginal circumstances and repair vitamins into the soil, boosting the yields of different crops it’s intercropped with.

“Bambara could be very, very straightforward to develop,” explains Dr. Effa.

“[It] has the capability to repair nitrogen into the soil, which could be very, very needful in our space the place there may be a lot soil degradation and lack of vitamins…it does not require a lot vitamins in itself to develop, it may be grown on marginal soils, very poor soils and it’ll produce a yield it doesn’t matter what,” he provides.

Elevating a relegated crop

So, a nutrient powerhouse, straightforward to develop, good for the soil… why then, the paradox of relegation for such a seemingly virtuoso legume?

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Properly, there are a selection of points at play.

Firstly, uncooked, unprocessed bambara takes a very, actually very long time to cook dinner. It sometimes wants a couple of hours on the boil to be able to eat – no small consideration for vitality strapped communities.

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Secondly, dehulling and getting ready the hard-shelled bambara is rather more labour intensive than different crops like cowpea and peanuts, and it’s typically executed manually.

Dr. Effa, nevertheless, believes that these issues are usually not insurmountable. He thinks that if bambara is ever to flee its relegated standing, it should require consideration, analysis and funding by agricultural our bodies to industrialise these processes.

And for his or her half, our two friends, Chef Moyo and Nkechi, are decided to place this ignored bean on high of the menu – at dwelling in Nigeria, and all over the world.

“We do not see Nigerian meals as haute delicacies all over the world as a result of we consider it as meals we eat at dwelling, you already know, celebration meals. However it’s not high quality eating, you already know, that is French meals, that’s Italian meals. We pay large cash to eat this meals as a result of we predict they’re unique or they’re overseas, however our personal meals? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,” says Moyo.

“It is written in our inferiority complicated on colonisation that tells us that something that we’re is just not sufficient. However we’re greater than sufficient”.

As for Nkechi, she says Bambara stays very expensive to her coronary heart after her entrepreneurial adventures with the meals.

“I name it our hero crop. And it saved my son,” she says.

“I imagine that when lots of people know, be taught in regards to the crop, when lots of people use the crop, when the consumption is excessive, manufacturing can be excessive. And the advantages to the atmosphere would even be extra felt. So the large targets proper now ought to be to search out methods to extend the consumption of bambara in order that the cultivation can enhance.”

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Bambara Groundnut Unfold accompanied by Gourassa Flatbread:


For the unfold:

Bambara Groundnuts

1 onion

Salt, pepper, curry powder (non-compulsory)

Tomatoes (non-compulsory)

Palm oil or vegetable oil

For the Gourassa flatbread







For the unfold

Boil the bambara groundnuts for a couple of hours till they’re very comfortable. You can too soak them upfront to scale back cooking time.

  • Warmth oil in a pan over a medium warmth.
  • Add onions, tomatoes to the pan and cook dinner till softened.
  • Add Bambara nuts into the pan.
  • Add seasoning and fry till the seasoning is nicely built-in.
  • Mash the Bambara nuts in a mortar and pestle or use a blender.

For the Gourassa flatbread

  • Mix the flour, sugar, salt and yeast with the water.
  • Knead the combination for 5-10 minutes.
  • Go away it to rise for half-hour.
  • Divide into 50g parts.
  • Roll into your required form and fry on either side in a scorching pan with or with out oil till browned and cooked by.

Bon appetit!

In the event you’re hungry for extra recipes and tales round indigenous African elements, take heed to the primary episode of our sequence the place we spoke to Pierre Thiam in regards to the cherished meals of his childhood, fonio.

The podcast The Star Ingredient was funded by the European Journalism Centre, by the Options Journalism Accelerator. This fund is supported by the Invoice & Melinda Gates Basis.


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