Growing up in Ivory Coast, Ramadhan was always a favorite part of my childhood because of the friendly atmosphere during the month I experienced, the extra mile we went to make our home cleaner and smelling of the best bakhour my adopted parents could find, and the great food we cooked masha’Allah. Ah the food…
Though these special dishes include a variety of Ramadhan traditions from West Africa there are three dishes every Muslim family will eat at Iftar or Suhur for sure in this part of the world; Gnomi, Dèguè (Dêguê), and Gnomi Bacca. These three Ramadhan must have are made from millet flour.
And we didn’t only consume millet because of its unique taste. We savored it especially during Ramadhan because it’s highly nutritive and a great source of energy. When I was younger, we actually use to make the flour ourselves by using a pilar and mortar to pound it after washing the grains thoroughly and drying them. It was a lot of work and this cereal contributed to our source of energy alhamdullilah. Nowadays, everybody just buys the flour instead to save time. So below are outlined each of the recipes to make them.
Gnomi (womi) or millet beignets are like African Poffertjes. They are very popular in West Africa especially during Ramadhan. It’s pretty hard to see these beignets in the streets of Ivory Coast outside of the holy month.
Equipment needed for Gnomi:
- A Dutch pancake maker or
- A Danish pastry pancake pan or
- You can also try a mini-cupcake mold. Just make sure the heat is optimal.
- A thin spatula, a wooden skewer or a fork to flip the cakes will do.
- A silicon brush (optional)
400 grams of millet flour
200 ml of water
300 grams of sugar
300 grams of unsweetened rice pudding or porridge
1 ripe banana (optional)
200 ml of frying oil or a can of oil spray
- Add the water to the millet flour and mix the two ingredients.
- Then add the rice pudding and the sugar.
3. If the mixture is too thick, add more water.
4. Now, add the smashed banana to the mixture, mix well and let it sit for 2 to 3 hours.
- When the time elapses, heat the pancake pan.
- Spray the insides of the domed molds with oil or use your silicon brush to brush them with oil.
- Fill the half-domes with the batter and flip them within 120 seconds or so. They should be gray and golden. Each cake should take less than five minute to cook in total. You will need to be fast flipping to prevent them from burning. Repeat the process until you use up all the batter. And Voilà!
Dèguè (Dêguê), or sweetened couscous of millet in yoghurt is another favorite dessert in West Africa. While Gnomi is mostly seasonal, Dèguè is not. It’s sold everywhere in the streets of Ivory Coast but only those who have strong digestive systems buy it outside. It’s milk-based and that alone makes it a dangerous substance if not stored properly. Therefore, many people opt out of buying it in the streets. On the other hand, it’s a very common dish gifted during Ramadhan. During this time, everyone knows the gifter made it herself because that is what most women do during Ramadhan; they usually outdo themselves in the kitchen.
200 grams of dry steamed millet couscous grains
1 glass of water
A teaspoon of butter
1000 grams of Greek yoghurt or thick plain yoghurt
400 grams of sweetened condensed milk or sugar
1 to 2 cups of dried raisins (optional)
A pinch of nutmeg (optional)
- Add a glass of water to the millet grains and let them boil until the grains are soft. Then add a little butter and let them sit to cool down.
- Mix the yoghurt and the condensed milk until the mixture is uniform
- Add the millet grains to the sweetened yoghurt and mix. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.
- Finally add the dried raisins and a pinch of nutmeg if desired. Refrigerate and serve cold.
Gnomi Bacca or millet porridge is mostly the dish that draws many non-Muslims to Muslim homes during Ramadhan. They love it just as much as African Muslims do! We have a tradition to gift Gnomi Bacca to our neighbors and relatives during this blessed month. And non-Muslims patiently await the month so that they can taste this dish again. Though, we cooked it in our homes outside of Ramadhan for breakfast or the fasting days scattered around the hijri calendar several times a year, it is a dish very special to Ramadhan in West Africa.
150 grams of dried millet grains
700 grams of water
500 grams of sugar or more
2 to 3 Tbsps. of baobab powder (optional)
1 smashed root of ginger (optional)
- Put the water in a pot and let it boil.
- In the meantime, juice the lemon and add the baobab powder to it. Mix them well. If thick, you can add more water to your liking to make it lighter.
- Now, add some water to the ginger paste and filter the juice out. Mix the ginger juice to the lemon and baobab fusion.
- Back to the pot, when the water boils, add half the grains, stir, and let them boil for five minutes. We stir so that the grains don’t stick together or to the bottom of the pot.
- After five minutes, add the other half of the grains, stir, and let the contents of the pot boil. You can divide the grains in several lots. It’s up to you.
- When the grains are soft and cooked, add the lemon/baobab/ginger juices to the pot.
- Let it boil for a few minutes before adding the sugar and it’s ready.
Do you have recipes that evoke memories of Ramadhan? Please send them to us here at Hayati Magazine! Countdown to Ramadhan starts now insha’Allah.
Bio: Papatia Feauxzar is an accountant, an avid reader and writer living in Dallas, Texas with her nuclear family. She blogs at papatia.wordpress.com.
Article originally published in SISTERS Magazine issue 74.