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from: Western Africa

Jus de Bissap

Made from the dried red flowers of Hibiscus sabdariffa, a kind of hibiscus plant, Jus de Bissap (Beesap) seems to be more of a tea than a "juice". It is often called the "national drink of Senegal". Every busy street, train station, bus depot, and stadium will have its bissap vendors selling the drink. The dried flowers can be found in every market. Bissap is equally popular in many neighboring countries of Western Africa: both the flower and the beverage are also known as l'Oseille de Guinée, Guinea Sorrel, and Karkadé. In Arabic-speaking countries, such as Egypt and Sudan, they are called Karkaday. The dried flowers are often called dried red sorrel, sorrel, or roselle.

village in senegal

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The red, tart Jus de Bissap reminds some people of cranberry or lingonberry juice, which can be substituted in this recipe if the dried hibiscus flowers cannot be obtained.

One common combination of flavorings is vanilla and mint. Bissap can be prepared double-strength, by using only half as much water. The resulting Jus de Bissap can be mixed with seltzer water, ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda. Jus de Bissap can also be mixed in cocktails.

The dried Hibiscus sabdariffa flowers are exported and used commercially to make food flavorings and colorings. In Africa, the new, tender leaves and stems of the hibiscus plant are eaten as Greens in Africa.

In the Gambia (which is completely surrounded by Senegal), wanjo is a beverage that is similar to Jus de Bissap. Another similar drink, made more-or-less the same way, called zobo or tsobo, is popular in Northern Nigeria.

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