Monday Meal Review: Mali


I drop the Maasa batter into the hot pan, wiping the tears from my cheeks. I want to be somewhere else, away from this terrible, no good day.

It’s been one of those days I sigh to the cat, Malky.

Now, as the batter puffs up into a crispy, golden disc, my focus slowly shifts from my frustrations to the smells and sights in front of me.

My mouth waters.

My stomach does a summersault.

I flip the Maasa and realize these pancake-donut treats were going to be g-o-o-d.

My phone rings. I wait. I hesitate. I shouldn’t answer.  But I do.

Another silly argument about the same old drama. Predictably, the tears come back. As I lose focus, I burn the Maasa. A few minutes later I hang up the phone and sigh.

If I can’t create peace in my own, tiny life, how can I expect it for the entire world? I flip the vent hood on.

I scrape the pan. Time to start again.

This time I won’t answer the phone. There’s nothing left to say. And right now there are Maasa to cook. To enjoy.

I believe we are the key to our own happiness – our own “peace” of mind. When everything has been said that can be said, and – yet – the bitter smoke of an argument lingers for no good reason, then it is about choices.

We can choose to live in that filthy, smoky air – going over the argument in our head until our mind is ready to explode – or we can open the window and enjoy the fresh air. Begin anew. Try again in the morning.

You see, what  goes wrong in our lives doesn’t matter so much as how we deal with it.

Today is a beautiful day. I will enjoy these simple fried cakes from Africa.  This is a moment of grace. Once my mind finds peace, then I can pick up the phone again with fresh intent.

Then I’ll ride on the wings of grace.


Mali’s Gluten-free “Pancake Donuts” (Maasa) [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

The crispy outside and the soft, doughy inside draw me in. The powdered sugar definitely brings all the flavors together in a way that is not only finger-lickin’, but completely addictive. This one made our tummies hurt, but in the best possible way.

What I loved least about this dish:

Not much. Just be sure not to use too much oil, as the pancakes will absorb it all. It’s a fine balance… a thin sheen is the best way to go, in my experience (but, then again, lots of oil is appreciated in west African cuisine, so the choice is yours).

Vanilla Ginger Bissap [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

This drink is a keeper. It was a favorite for all three of us… we enjoyed the slight bite from the ginger, along with the ever-so-smooth vanilla undertones. Keith named it a favorite when served sweet and chilled, and I agree. Ava and I also name it a favorite hot, as we two love a good tea party.

What I loved least about this dish:

Nothing! Play around with the quantities – more vanilla might be nice if you want to smooth it out even more.

Ava’s Corner


  1. Sharisse says

    I don’t know what’s going on in your life – but that sweet little baby’s voice fixes everything. I adore that child!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Thanks Sharisse – I am interested in the process of finding peace – it was just silly drama, but it can be so hard to simply give ourselves the time and space to process – so we can enjoy the voices of good in our lives 😉 I thought others might relate… have a beautiful day!

  2. aunty eileen says

    Sasha: I am so sorry you are feeling ‘pain’. Since I do not know what “drama” you speak about,
    all I can say and want you to know is, I do ‘care’ and I pray whatever it is, that it can be dealt with
    peacefully and reasonably and then able to put it behind you soon. Also, I offer you this below quote that I think is nice because when someone we love or even just know and care about is in ‘pain,’ it is hard to know what to do or say sometimes… again, I will say some special prayers and remember:

    “One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.” – James Earl Jones

    … we should never be made to feel or be prevented from being able to say and discuss what may be in our
    heart that is causing pain or even joy…..

    • Sasha Martin says

      I love that quote – thank you! As I mentioned to Sharisse, it was more about the process of finding peace. It’s a continual process… one that can be challenging, but that is well worth the effort. 🙂

      • aunty eileen says

        yes, Sasha…. have your cry (good for soul, health and even eyes :-)…. and then look around and think about all the positives in your present immediate location and then go and throw away all your tissues, put the kettle on, (and if someone is around… even just a little kitty-cat – ask for a hug and then have tea….. and then you will be ready to ‘live’ again…. Our lives hold many positives and responsibilities and challenges…. it is how God designed it (or someone – don’t want to offend anyone by saying “God”)….

        • “They” are offending us by making us feel guilty for acknowledging a Higher Power…There can be no Peace without Justice and no Justice without Truth. God is the source of all Truth and unless you can tap into that source, there will be Confusion.

          • aunty eileen says

            I personally am never offended by other peoples’ beliefs or opinions…. I personally am thankful and feel blessed when someone takes the time to share…. What I think is offensive to many people (including me) is when someone sounds as if their beliefs and opinions are the only valid beliefs and opinions…. much more I would like to share about my own personal belief and love of God… but, of course, this would not be the place.

  3. Hibiscus flowers are so beautiful, making tea with them always brings me a smile! I remember when I was a child my grandparents used to drink karkade – hibiscus flowers tea – that came in little bags, and I hated it for some reason. Many years later, I bought the flowers because of their beauty, and now it is one of my favourite herbal teas.
    Especially with a little extra zing- I’ll try this combination for sure.

    • Sasha Martin says

      I didn’t like it at first either, but this is by far my favorite way to drink Hibiscus… I wonder if as a child your taste buds were too sensitive to the tart flavor? Anyway, it certainly is yum to me *now* 🙂

  4. Ava is sitting the way we used to as kids…back on our haunches…

    In less than a year, she is able to verbalize her likes & dislikes..amazing….time is on the run…

  5. elisa waller says

    wow….life is hot and cold just like your tea…..looks delicious…I always look at life as full of ingredients without ingredients their is no tea and life certainly has lots of ingredients….families are full of them..haha…I’m wondering if you noticed a difference when you ate the gluten free did your belly feel less full. Some people are allergic to gluten, so I was wondering if eating gluten free is the way to go , as far as “breads” are concerned?
    P.S Sasha I want everyone to know that you are the best sister eva..and you give great advice and ingredients! <3

    • Sasha Martin says

      That’s right – the tea is the perfect analogy 🙂 Gluten free or not, they still absorbed some oil so it wasn’t overly healthy… I’d say I still felt full and “donuty” afterwards. xoxo

    • Did you check out that video I sent – Dr Barnard…After going strict vegan for 1-2 months, I lost 20 pounds! and all my “fat” and cholesterol dropped like a bomb.
      Strict vegan eats rye or pumpernickel bread only…no olive oil or any oils…no white potatoes, no dairy – none – no cheese, no milk, no eggs, no nothing. They do eat all kins of beans and veggies, sweet potatoes & any amount of pasta is is OK and coffee…
      After that, I slowly reintroduced eggs & a tiny bit of cheese once in a great while..and then some fish once in a great while (not shellfish)…But I have to always be careful I don’t go overboard and revert to old “habits”..
      Many of Sasha’s recipes are “modern” in that they tend toward healthly revisions…We are not hunters and gatherers anymore, we live sendentary lives
      I find it fascinating to see other body types in far-away cultures and then compare their lifestyles and diet.
      For example, in Timbuktu…

      • aunty eileen says

        haha… you may have lived a sendentary life…. but, I don’t even know how to pronounce the word or even really spell it… never mind, not even knowing what it is… no, that word doesn’t fit anything in my life… haha, I am a full-time cook, house cleaner, window washer, pool cleaner, house painter – in and out, wallpaperer, wood refinisher, snowblower and shoveler and repairer of all kinds of things and an expert duck-taper… well, just a gazillion things and then of course errands and bill-payer and bookkeeper and my own personal hobbies and of course family and making parties and holidays…. ah, thank goodness I was able to retire from my receive-a-paycheck-jobs’ … cause yea, our bodies do like slowing down a bit as we get older or there is just so many hours in the day and so much energy our bodies have before it wants to collapse….. haha

        Yes, life is definetely different, at least we don’t have to hunt for food any longer (well, we do have to hunt-for best food and best prices haha) and then after eating our meal just be bored sitting in our cave…. or playing a tune or maybe having fun dancing around or making some beads… 🙂 I like life ‘now’…. more choices and opportunities…. 🙂

  6. Glyn says

    A tea party on the floor, a Superman/woman cape, a sweet little voice…makes me feel better after a cranky day in my household! Thanks!

  7. aunty eileen says

    Since the subject of body fat was brought up I found a couple of sites
    that may be interesting and helpful:

    “How much body fat do we need “
    (men & woman & different ages need a different amount):

    Ask says: “Our bodies need fat not only because it is a compact and space efficient way to store large amount of calories, but also because its the only way our bodies can get some of the vitamins we need. Fat contains 9 calories per gram which dwarfs carbohydrates which only carry 4 per gram. Fat also transports vitamins A, D, E, and K, which we wouldn’t be healthy without.”

    And: “Why do we need some fats in our body?”

  8. Eileen says

    Thank you for sharing such a personal moment, yet one to which we can all relate. You’re a beautiful writer.

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