Forget quinoa: meet fonio, the ancient “miracle grain”. Renowned Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam recently gave an impassioned talk at TED Global in Tanzania, presenting his vision for the versatile grain native to Senegal — and what Léopold Sédar Senghor called “the rendezvous of giving and receiving.”
Pierre has been a friend and advisor to Abracadabra since the beginning, and you can find a number of fonio recipes on our menu, including our fonio-and-bissap stuffed tomatoes as well as fonio crackers, porridge, and salads.
Watch Pierre’s talk below and click through to the TED blog, where he also shares his recipe for vegetarian fonio sushi.
We’ve been on a roll, catering and hosting events all over Dakar and teaming up with wonderful new local partners — and we thought the least we can do is share some photos!
Where you there? We had a special after-work all-ages tasting event, featuring delicious new vegetarian creations for kids and adults, at Espace Maam Samba, the fair trade store and auberge in Ngor. Even when we’re not there serving nyebi party salad, coconut cucumber soup, chocolate pudding with peanut and mbourake base, and mini bouye muffins, you should check out their beautiful assortment of clothes, textiles, furnitures, and gifts.
For our Reel Repas Deluxe, we returned to Maam Samba, combining 007 with a 3-course meal! Together with our friends from Smokestack, we teamed up to satisfy meat lovers and vegetarians alike: reclining in Maam Samba’s bamboo furniture, guests dug on the smoked chicken carnitas from Smokestack along with Abracadabra’s mango curry, appetizers, desserts, and cocktails while they enjoyed the latest installment of James Bond. Our next Reel Repas is planned for June 3 — watch this space for details!
Melo Patisserie just opened in Ngor, offering an amazing variety of authentic European breads, German rolls, and even New York style cronuts! Proprietress Anna Gueyre invited us to host a Magic Brunch in her beautiful space, and we were thrilled to serve Abracadabra’s savory food along with Melo’s sumptuous breakfast spread. Kids made cookies and falafel burgers while their parents enjoyed Melo’s European ambiente and live guitar music for a perfect Sunday morning brunch.
Make sure to check out Melo and Maam Samba when you’re in Ngor — or make them a reason to stop by the neighborhood! We’ll announce new collaborations and events soon, so sign up for our newsletter, follow us on Twitter, or like our Facebook page.
Hope to see & serve you soon!
Cheikh from Bégué Coco
Who doesn’t love coconut?
We certainly love coconut! Fresh coconut milk is a key ingredient in several of our main courses, desserts, and smoothies — so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the first companies we approached for a partnership was Bégué Coco, a social start-up that produces and retails coconut products in Dakar.
How many ways can you enjoy coconut?
Bégué Coco offers coconut water, virgin coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut yogurt, dried coconut as well coconut cosmetics.
With its focus on a fresh, all-natural local product, environmental sustainability, and positive awareness of collective health, Bégué Coco and its founding Jokko association make natural partners for Abracadabra.
What does artisanal coconut production look like?
When we visited Cheikh from Bégué Coco to pick up coconut products for our Tirami-Touba dessert, he introduced us to his coconut shredder and showed us the process of cutting the coconuts open, draining the fresh water (delicious!), and shredding the inside of the fruit for coconut flesh shavings. It’s a surprisingly time-consuming and somewhat dangerous process — you’ll want to watch your fingers closely while operating a coconut shredder.
Why can’t you find Bégué Coco’s edible coconut products in stores?
Cheikh insists that his edible coconut products be 100% natural — which means they don’t keep on store shelves because they’re free of nasty chemicals.
You can find Cheikh and team at organic markets around Dakar several times a week, or order directly from them. Note: you need to pre-order coconut milk, water or flesh for pick-up at the market (or, they deliver!). Find out more on their website.
Cheikh tells us that while Bégué Coco is doing well with private orders and their coconut oil products, their production rate and profits have plenty of room to expand — if there was a daily market for their fresh goods. Enter: you, your appreciation of natural, tasty food — and the Abracadabra Food Truck! Support our fundraising campaign so we can bring delicious dishes using Bégué Coco’s products to you, and delicious profit to them!
For the second ingredient in our upcoming surprise treat, we took a day trip to Keur Moussa Abbey, about an hour outside of Dakar. The Benedictine monastery is known for its work for the local community as well as its cultivation of fruits, production of koras and goat cheese, and delicious varieties of liqueurs. Our plan was to attend mass and then meet with the Brothers responsible for the cheese and liqueur production.
Alas, in Senegal, things don’t always go according to plan. When we arrived, we learned that it was a special Sunday: the monks were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Soeurs Servantes des Pauvres at Keur Moussa, and a grand fete was following the extended mass.
We were happy to celebrate with the congregation under blue skies, swept away by their spirituality, the singing, music, and dancing (see the short video below). Luckily, the Abbey regularly delivers to Dakar, so we can get our ingredients back in Dakar — and we’ll speak to the Brothers on another visit. This, too, is the Senegalese way: even if things didn’t go as planned, a solution suggested itself, and everyone had a wonderful day.