Week 2. Burkina Faso. Riz au Gras (“Fat Rice”)

Before I start tonight I would like to thank a few guys on Twitter this week. I am new to this game, and whilst loving it, I felt for the first week as though I was writing for myself. Sending tweets out about the planning into the ether when you have no followers – well that felt almost desperate, and at best strange. Tonight that is no longer the case – as a few kind people have picked up on what I am doing and amazingly like the concept! To you I thank you, and I hope you like tonight’s offering. It is you who have given me a wee audience and it is so much fun. Don’t be afraid to criticize though. You can’t always be so good to me.

Burkina Faso

I think I have a lot to learn when it comes to this 4 year adventure. In my head, having a relatively unusual start (with the Georgian dumplings of last week) meant that this week things would be more “normal”. Normal cuisine being the cuisine I am used to cooking. You know, like Spain normal, or Italy normal or maybe pushing it a bit with Belgium normal. I was, of course ,ridiculously incorrect and considering  thereare only 20 “normal” countries on my list of 194, “normal” will, by the nature of only being visited about 1 in 10 times, will become largely “abnormal”  – and the former “abnormal” becoming…….you get what I mean.

This week I asked my wife to give me a number, and her number correlated on my list to Burkina Faso in West Africa. I approved this choice with a large smile considering we have the World Cup beginning this week on the same continent. Short of drawing South Africa this week, a fellow African country was good with me.

Having done my research I have decided this week on a dish that is shared as a traditional dish with Benin (which might make things trickier when I draw Benin) called “Fat Rice”. Prior to beginning the cook session tonight, I can’t really understand why it is called Riz au Gras (which is literally translated to “Rice with Fat”). If anything, it is quite a lean one-pot dish of meat, chili and rice, but I would imagine the levels of oil used could vary and could soak into the rice and “fatten it”.

I think the concept of this dish is good. Onions, tomatoes, garlic, chilli and stock in a paste –  then chicken cubes, some stock and then a long grain rice to bulk it up risotto-style. I would be highly surprised if it does anything to particularly excite me though – that is if it doesn’t near on kill me with its two Scotch Bonnet(350,000 Scoville) Chili Peppers. It reads as though it will taste like a one pot curry, but is curiously herb free and has just the chili for spice depth. Could it taste a tad bland?

18:42. Bit of a later start tonight due to having to (a) negotiate traffic and (b) mend a baby monitor, but I’m done and raring to go. The ingredients look a little ‘student food’ but lets get stuck in and see what comes of it.

19.05 – Going pretty well

19:40. Done. Eaten. Review and recipe to follow:

Review:

This dish is a superb staple. Being rice based, even a fist sized portion is enough to fill you up, and more will start to make you feel a little uncomfortable. That being said, it isn’t difficult to make and nor is it packed with complex flavours. I would imagine it is a traditional dish due to the ingredients being commonly available and could be cooked on the most extravagant of hobs, to a bush fire. Taste wise I thought it was relatively bland. Spicy, but without depth. I put in two Scotch Bonnet chillies, but it could suprisingly have taken more. The texture was risotto-esque of course, but with the texture of long grain. Nothing suprising there. I liked it, but I wouldn’t cook it in the same form again. I would stir handfuls of chopped coriander through it or have it as a side dish (without the chicken). I would even consider it cold as a salad. I enjoyed making this dish, but not for the taste or the look, but for the fact that its simplicity told me so much about the country and the cuture in which it was born. It was simple and easy and quick and that makes me think it is available to all in Burkina Faso – no matter how rich or poor.

Finally – don’t call it “Fat Rice” – it isn’t fair on it. It is better than that.

Recipe (this feeds about 6):

500g meat (I used chicken)

500g Rice

Meat stock (to match your chosen meat)

3 Garlic Cloves

2 Scotch Bonnet Chillis

1 Onion

4 Tomatoes Chopped

4tbsp Tomato Puree

Blend the garlic, chillis, onion and tomatoes.

Get a large casserole dish and put 100ml of oil with the meat and the blended sauce. Cook for 15 mins.

Add the stock (1 litre) with the rice and the tomato puree.

Put the lid on and let it go for 15 mins.

That is literally that!

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3 thoughts on “Week 2. Burkina Faso. Riz au Gras (“Fat Rice”)

  1. Glad to read your experiences with Riz Gras! I was just looking for the recipe as I just returned from my travels to Burkina Faso and am craving this dish. You’re right, riz gras is a frequent dish, but tô is the most widely eaten staple dish (its a mushy porridge made of sorghum or millet eaten with various sauces). Riz gras is typically more flavoured than the recipe you were given I think. In addition to the chiles added, often there was a subtle allspice/clove or maybe even cinnamon flavour in the rice. The other MAJOR thing you’re missing is the cabbage which really soaks up the sauce and gets really tender, especially African cabbage which is much better than the cabbage I eat here in Canada. And because red or chicken meat is a rare thing to eat on a regular basis, the dish is often made with fish. The dish is called ‘fat’ rice because it is much richer than food one might eat on a daily basis.

    • This is fantastic information – thank you. I actually re-made Fat-Rice (off blog) the other week. It was delicious. Have a wonderful week.

  2. Oh, and one more thing. While here ‘fat rice’ may sound like a rude thing to call a dish, in Burkinabé culture, this is one of the highest compliments one can give to food! Indeed, even being known as a fat person shows that you can afford to eat well and share with others.

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