All posts filed under: Niger


Monday Meal Review: Niger

THE SCENE We’ve now eaten a meal from 129 countries in the world. Surreal. Wonderful. Delicious. This means we are officially 2/3 done with the Adventure.  In November there’ll only be a year left. After cooking the world for this long, certain things come to be expected. Happy bellies, for example. Enriched minds. Stretching ourselves. Growing. All along the way, whether I’m frazzled or relaxed, hungry or full, I hear the same question again and again from curious readers. “What country has been your favorite, so far?” Oh boy. Talk about a tough question to answer.  Every time I hear those words I always feel vaguely uneasy, like someone has asked me who my favorite child is. How could I ever, ever choose one over all the others (theoretically, of course)? Let me stumble through an answer. While I don’t have a favorite per se, I do love making food from countries I know nothing about. Which brings us to this week’s Global Table – Niger. Much of Niger’s traditional food is heat-your-house-up sauces and stews …

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Cardamom Caakiri

There are very few things that surprise me any more. A toddler falling apart five minutes past her bedtime? Predictable. Going twice as long between mowings in the 100F-mid-July-inferno? Guaranteed. Two things that do succeed at surprising me? The last season of Lost (no spoilers please!) and using couscous to make a tangy-sweet pudding. Yes. I’m considering eating caakiri while watching Lost to see if the surprises cancel each other out. It could happen. So. Let’s back up a moment and talk about caakiri. Remember when we made steamed “rainy day” couscous? Well, this is what you make with the leftovers. This is what you make to stretch simple carbs into a rich treat. Made with couscous, yogurt, sour cream, and evaporated milk, Caakiri is a slightly tangy pudding of sorts. It can be served unsweet (in which case it tastes very yogurty and rather nice for breakfast), or with sugar. This is where it takes on dessert-like qualities. Perfect to get you through a walk in, say, the desert. If, after the first time, you decide …

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North African Sage n’ Green Tea

There are a few ways to keep cool in hot weather. In the west, we wear shorts, drink cold drinks, and blast the A/C. In Niger, they use a completely different set of tricks. The polar opposite, in fact. For starers, they cover up. Believe it or not, wearing long layers made of lightweight cotton keeps the sun’s hot rays off your skin. The flowing movement of the fabric acts like natural air conditioning. The elephants accomplish the same thing by dusting themselves with dirt. Not quite as desirable if you have somewhere nice to go. There’s one other trick to staying cool in Niger. Drinking hot tea. While it sounds like it’d make an already hot day feel like an inferno, it is the opposite. The hot liquid makes you perspire… and the tiny beads of sweat catch the slightest breeze, cooling you off. That’s what our tour guide in Tunisia told me, anyway (they do the same thing all over North Africa). All you do is splash hot water over green tea and… a …

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West African Toasted Baguette Sandwich with Spinach Scrambled Eggs

If you’re going to serve an egg sandwich, you best do it up right. Layer hot, scrambled eggs in a crusty, toasty baguette and wrap ‘em up. Make sure there’s something green in there to keep you strong and healthy. Tie it with a bow. Simply put: turn breakfast into a present for your belly. I learned this trick from Niger. When I dug around for traditional recipes I kept stumbling upon the same thing: eggs sandwiches sold by street vendors. Simple. Comforting. Filling. This is the kind of thing people crave once they leave Niger – a fond memory in the making. Most people say they come wrapped in old newspapers, but any old paper does the trick. Turns out wrapping up a sandwich is by far the best thing you can do to help keep your eggs from running away. Particularly if you’re 3 years old. Just ask Ava. Seriously. This could have been bad. While I used spinach and a little green onion in our sandwich, the fine folks of Niger often …

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Menu: Niger

Our menu for Niger is all about familiar ingredients. This menu is full of that which is already under our noses, no matter where we live. The fun part is seeing the ingredients arranged in new ways. This time I chose street food, a comforting evening sipper, and a fun way to use up extra couscous. What sounds good to you? Toasted Baguette sandwich with Spinach Scrambled Eggs [Recipe] Inspired by the street stalls of Niger, where baguette sandwiches wrapped in newspaper are commonplace, and Malahiya, a popular leafy green used in Niger.  In each bite you’ll find spinach, paprika, green onion and toasty baguette. A simple way to bring a touch of Niger to your internationally inspired brunch. North African Sage n’ Green Tea [Recipe] Green tea steeped with fresh sage leaves and as much sugar as you can stand. Yes, they sip it sweet in Niger. Serve with a smile at your next tea party. Cardamom Caakiri [Recipe] Our Caakiri is made with prepared couscous, evaporated milk, yogurt, and sour cream. Dust with cardamom and …

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Dunes de Temet. Photo by Jacques Taberlet.

About the food of Niger

If Niger were a woman, her tiptoes would be in the tropics, her body in the savanna, and her hair would flow through the Sahara Desert’s rolling dunes. The people living in this hot, dry country favor a combination of north African and west-central African foods. Should you happen upon a street vendor in Niger,  you might find fried doughs, various meats on sticks, and baguette sandwiches  [Recipe]. These often come piled on scraps of newspaper (or are wrapped up in it), so – if you’re a neat eater – you just might be able to catch snippets of the latest news as you eat. Or, instead, you can head up to the Ténéré, the vast “desert within a desert” to read the “writing on the wall,” or rock engravings … something much, much older: The Ténéré, on the southern flank of the Sahara, easily ranks among the most desolate landscapes on Earth. The Tuareg, turbaned nomads who for centuries have ruled this barren realm, refer to it as a “desert within a desert”—a California-size ocean …

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