In recent years, baobab has garnered a fair bit of attention as a "superfruit." Companies like UK-based Aduna have publicized the myriad benefits of baobab pulp, which contains vitamin C, thiamin, potassium, calcium and vitamin B6. During the rainy season, baobab trees absorb water, storing it in their trunks, which allows them to produce fruit in the dry season. When Aduna first started in 2011, over 95% of people in the UK had never heard of baobab; however, across Africa, baobab is nothing new.
The majestic baobab tree is one of the iconic images of the Sahel region. With a lifespan of over 5000 years, these "grandmothers of the Sahel" can reach 90 feet. In The Gambia, my mother's country, we call the fruit of the baobab buoy and use it in a traditional desert called naan mburu that is served at Easter. Baobab pulp has an acidic, tart flavor that tastes like a combination of grapefruit, pear, and vanilla — aka delicious. When I found the pulp at a local market in Cantonments, I figured I would try to develop new ways of using it, and then settled on pancakes. The sweet coconut balances out the tart baobab giving the pancakes a unique flavor. Try it out and let me see what you think. In the US and UK, you can buy baobab from Aduna.
Baobab and Coconut Pancakes
Serves 3 – 4
4 tbsp of baobab powder (in the West, you can get some through UK company Aduna)
4 tbsp of desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 cups of flour
1 cup milk (add more if the mixture is too dry)
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
½ oz butter, melted
2 large eggs
Canola oil, for brushing
Maple syrup or agave syrup for servings
In a large bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, sugar, salt, desiccated coconut and baobab powder. In another bowl, mix the milk, the eggs, and butter. Mix the dry and wet ingredients until combined. Make sure not to over-mix—there should still be a few lumps. Let the batter sit for a 5 minutes.
Heat a griddle until hot then brush it with oil. Ladle ¼ of a cup of batter. Repeat with the remaining batter. You should have 6 – 8 pancakes. Dust with a fruit-based coulis or fresh fruit if you are feeling fancy. I topped these pancakes with fried honey bananas. (See recipe below).
Serve immediately with maple or agave syrup.
2 bananas, sliced
2 tbsp. oil (I use coconut oil)
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. water
Cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bananas to the skillet in one layer. Fry for two minutes on both sides. Remove from heat, then combine the honey and water. Cover the bananas with the mixture then top with cinnamon and honey. Serve over the pancakes.