African Superfood: Fonio

Bambara beans served with black fonio, topped with tomatoes and fried green plaintain.    (Photo credit: Ivy Prosper)

More and more, ancient grains are becoming increasingly popular around the world because people are more health conscious.  After decades of processed foods and the negative effects on our health, it’s no wonder people are looking for alternatives.

It was through my work on a documentary project that I learned about a grain called Fonio, which grows in Ghana and other parts of West Africa.  I was so excited about the health benefits, I bought a bag at a local shop that sells products all made in Ghana.  Apparently this superfood is one that many Ghanaians don’t even eat.  Like many Africans, they prefer foods made using maize.

I recently dined at a restaurant called One Corner, in Accra, Ghana.  The restaurant occasionally has a special menu of indigenous local Ghanaian foods created by Chef Ezra Davis.  Because he is not there on a regular basis, it’s a special treat for patrons who come when he’s in the kitchen.  I went with my team from work and decided to get the bambara beans with black fonio.  It was made like couscous but had a lighter, fluffier texture.  It was very good.  When I initially discovered fonio I only knew to make it in a porridge form for breakfast, so having it like this for dinner was a nice alternative.


Fonio is actually packed with so much nutrition that many are not even aware of.

  • Vitamin B
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Phosphorus
  • Rich in sulphur
  • Amino acids
  • Fibre

It’s also gluten free, which makes it a great alternative for people who suffer from Celiac disease and is great for diabetes patients.  This food also helps digestion and improve cardiovascular health.

Bags of Black Fonio and Baobab powder from Abba Buw.

Fonio is not sold everywhere.  You would have to find your local health food store and ask if they carry it.  Most likely it would be in the hot cereals section of the stores.  If you’re able to shop online you can even find it on  Just type ‘fonio’ in the search bar and see what you discover can be delivered right to your front door.



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