I’m back from vacation and continuing my challenge! I’m sure I’ll take other breaks here and there but I do intend to finish this, even if it takes me a while!
This was a difficult week because it was hard to find dishes to make, and the subreddit was one of those where you need to request permission to post. So far, that’s never worked out for me and Guinea was the same. So I didn’t have any input from anyone who lives there.
Guinea is a country on the coast of West Africa, and it is sometimes referred to as Guinea-Conakry after its capital of Conakry. This helps differentiate it from Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea, which are completely different countries on the same continent.
Guinea was once colonized by France, and the country was known as French Guinea until it gained independence in 1958. After a long history of military coups and decades of authoritarian rule, Guinea held its first democratic election in 2010. However, the country is still plagued by corruption and allegations of human rights violations.
French is the national language, but more than 24 indigenous languages are still spoken today.
What Do People Eat in Guinea?
One traditional dish will sound familiar to you if you’ve been following me on this challenge: like many African countries, Guinean cuisine features fou fou. This can be made from boiled and mashed cassava, yams, maize, or plantain.
Many common dishes are based on root vegetables, with maize, okra, and cassava leaves also being popular.
Fish is used in some stews, whereas meat is less common. Pork would likely be almost unheard of in Guinean cuisine, since the majority of the country is Muslim.
Various sauces make up a large part of the cuisine, usually featuring vegetables or peanuts, often seasoned with chili, garlic, and onion. These would often be served with fou fou or rice.
Desserts are uncommon, but Guineans do enjoy some sweet drinks such as bissap (hibiscus tea) and, in non-Muslim areas, palm wine.
What I Made
Patates (Sweet Potato Fries)
Yes, sweet potato fries are apparently popular in Guinea! There is also a similar dish which is made using plantains instead.
I didn’t use a recipe for this, but I looked at a few online to get an idea of what to do. I cut up a sweet potato and tossed the pieces in a mixture of cornstarch, masa harina, salt, pepper, and cayenne, then tossed with some olive oil. The masa harina idea comes from a Reddit post I saw a while ago which claims that this helps the fries to be more crispy.
I then baked the fries in the oven until they were cooked through and crispy. Since this was my first time making sweet potato fries, I don’t know how much the masa harina helped compared to if I had just used cornstarch. But there was definitely some crispiness to these fries. I was dreading eating soft roasted pieces of sweet potato (which I have to be careful with because I usually don’t like roasted sweet potato since it gets too sweet). But these fries were delicious!
In Guinea, these would be served with a spicy tomato sauce, but I couldn’t find a recipe for it, or the name. Instead, I mixed some sriracha and ketchup, which I’m sure isn’t authentic, but it tasted pretty good!
Ketoun (Yam Porridge)
This stew is made with a variety of vegetables which can differ from recipe to recipe, but usually it includes a variety of root vegetables. I used sweet potato, taro, and potato here (I was meant to include cassava but used potato instead since I didn’t want to buy a whole piece of cassava).
To start, I chopped up the root vegetables, put them in a pot, covered them with water, and brought the mixture to a boil.
I then blended some green onion and regular onion together and added it to the boiling mixture with some peanut butter, salt, and pepper. I also added a little fish sauce instead of the fish powder the recipe called for.
Once the vegetables were cooked through, I added some cod; fish is a common but optional addition. When that was cooked, I added some red palm oil and continued to cook until the mixture thickened and the vegetables were falling apart. It’s apparently supposed to be kind of mushy which I realize doesn’t look too appealing. The recipe author admits that she herself prefers a chunkier texture, and I think I wish I’d let my root vegetables stay more intact.
I thought this tasted fine when I first started eating it, but I got sick of it pretty quickly and found it difficult to finish a small bowl. I think there’s a word for this; I saw it on some cooking subreddit a while ago. So, it wasn’t really that it tasted bad, just that I could only handle small amounts at a time.
If you’d like to make this, the recipe I used is from Afro Mom Spices.
Poulet Yassa (Braised Chicken with Onion)
From what I could find, this seems to be Guinea’s national dish, but it is also very popular in Senegal. It’s a simple dish to make.
First, I mixed some chicken thighs with lemon juice, mustard, garlic, onion, chili flakes, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. I let the mixture sit in the fridge all day.
I cooked the chicken in a large skillet with some oil, and when it was browned I flipped it and added the onion and the remaining liquid from the marinade. Once the onion was done to my liking and the chicken was cooked through, that was it!
I served this with rice, which is common. It was pretty good and the kind of thing anyone who enjoys mustard and onions would love!
I was trying to use a recipe from Guinea for this in case it’s made differently in Senegal, but it was hard to find one I was happy with. I ended up loosely following a video by Phil Meets Food on YouTube, which didn’t include ingredient amounts but I thought I could get good results from it and I did.
This week was alright; my favorite dish was definitely the patates with the poulet yassa a close second. No love for the ketoun, sorry!
Next week, I will be cooking food from Guinea-Bissau.