What Is Fonio? Here's What You Need to Know About the New "It" Grain
You're probably used to seeing words like farro and quinoa on restaurant menus everywhere, but have you heard of fonio? Fonio is an ancient African millet that's naturally gluten-free, easily digestible, and high in both fiber and protein, and it's currently poised to become America's new favorite supergrain in 2020. Here's why.
For starters, fonio is quick and easy to prepare. Eight tablespoons cook up into three fluffy cups of gluten-free goodness in just five minutes, while grains like couscous and brown rice traditionally take much longer. Fonio is also packed with nutrients. Not only is it rich in fiber and iron, but it also boasts two amino acids — cysteine and methionine — that are scarce in other major grains. Plus, it's got a nutty, earthy flavor that works well in both sweet and savory dishes, which is why it can effortlessly be used in everything from breakfast bowls and salads to desserts, like this Chocolate Fonia Bark. It can even be ground up into flour for bread.
Seems pretty adaptable, right? Perhaps that's why New York-based chef Pierre Thiam — who's the founder of Yolélé Foods, a company that's working to popularize fonio in the US — recently called the grain a "dream ingredient." "It cooks in five minutes and it's so versatile," he said during the Slow Food Nations conference in July 2019. "You can do anything with it — replace any grain in any recipe. It's a grain that really transcends borders."