from: Western Africa | cooking method: boiling-simmering
Ngalakh (Ngalax, Ngallax) is a West African dessert lakh (porridge) popular in Senegal. Like Caakiri, Ngalakh is a sweetened porridge, similar to many of Africa's grain-based Fufu-like staples that are mixed with water or milk to make porridges and beverages. Ngalakh's main ingredient is karaw or araw, a kind of Couscous made from millet. While caakiri is made with a yogurt- or sour cream sauce, ngalakh is flavored with peanut butter and the fruit of the baobab tree, called bouye.
In America and Europe, the Baobab trees might be best known to readers of The Little Prince. In the dryer, temperate regions of Africa, baobabs (Adansonia digitata) are a tree of myth and legend. Baobabs are carefully tended by rural peoples and are particularly useful:
- the hollow trunks of baobabs are used as dwellings and storehouses,
- traditional medicines are obtained from its bark, leaves, and fruit,
- its bark can be pounded to produce fibers that are used to make baskets, cloth, hats, mats, nets, rope, and strings (interestingly, after the bark is stripped away, the baobab grows new bark),
- its leaves are cooked and eaten as greens, and are dried for use as a seasoning and a sauce and stew thickener,
- its fruit, which is rich in vitamin C, calcium, and iron and is called pain de singe or monkey bread, can be roasted, ground, and boiled to make a coffee-substitute; it is also soaked in water to make a refreshing drink, and is used as a flavoring in ngalakh.
What you need
- two cups karaw (millet couscous) -- or substitute the more common durum wheat wheat Couscous
- two tablespoons butter
- four cups of bouye (baobab fruit) -- to make baobab fruit juice; or substitute other juice (see below)
- one cup peanut butter (smooth, natural, unsweetened)
- two cups of sugar
- one-half teaspoon vanilla
- one teaspoon orange-flower water
- a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon
- one handful of raisins
What you do
- Prepare the baobab fruit juice:
Place the baobab fruit in a clean glass bowl with several cups of warm water. Leave to soak for at least a few hours. Once the fruit is completely soaked, the fruit pulp should be easy to separate from the seeds. Stir it vigorously until the water becomes an opaque tan liquid. Strain this liquid through a cheesecloth and set aside.
If baobab fruit is not available:
Substitute fresh or canned Tamarind juice, or any other tropical fruit juice.
- Steam or cook couscous as normal. Stir in butter. Cool in the refrigerator.
- Make the sauce by mixing equal parts baobab fruit juice (or other juice) and peanut butter -- about one or two cups of each. Add sugar, vanilla, nutmeg (or cinnamon) and orange water. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Immediately before serving: Mix the couscous, sauce, and raisins. Sprinkle with sugar. Serve and eat without delay.
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