So far I have not had an opportunity to visit Burkina Faso. However, I met a friend from Burkina Faso while teaching epidemiology on a Vaccinology course at the University of Siena. When I asked my friend Frederic which dish he would recommend to cook, he kindly sent me the recipe for To and Okra Sauce. He said that To is a very popular food and it is often served with sauce, such as the okra sauce. The To is similar to polenta, made of cornmeal and water. Interestingly, the okra sauce is very chunky and reminds me of stew. Also, the consistency is a bit slimy so that it takes some getting used to for the texture. In addition, it can be messy to eat. We enjoyed trying this dish and the flavour was very tasty and unique.
1 pound (454g) cornmeal
1 pound (460g) okra fresh or frozen
½ pound (230g) beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp Beef or chicken bouillon
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
First, bring about two litres of water to a boil in a large pot. Then slowly add about 1/4 of the cornmeal. Stir quickly and constantly for about 5 minutes so no lumps form. Reduce heat to medium. Allow this mixture to cook for about five minutes, stirring constantly
Next, remove about a quarter of the porridge obtained and set it aside in a bowl. Then add the remaining cornmeal about one cup at a time. With a large wooden spoon, stir vigorously each time the cornmeal is added.
If the mixture becomes too thick to stir, add some of the flour and porridge that was set aside.
Keep adding the cornmeal until a thick, smooth paste forms. It should be almost too thick to stir. Cover the pot and cook for an additional ten minutes over very low heat. Remove from heat. Serve warm or cool with sauce.
First, in a medium-sized saucepan, boil meat seasoned with garlic salt, red pepper and onions until tender (approximately 30 -40 minutes).
In the meantime, wash the okra, remove the tops and tails, and slice into rounds. Blend the okra to a coarse consistency in a food processor or you can finely chop the okra into coarse consistency.
Add the trimmed okra into a saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes. Do not cover the pan. Add the bouillon, and cook for 10 minutes more. Finally add the spinach, meat, and some of the onions, then stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Serve warm with To (cornmeal paste)
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