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Monday, September 22, 2014

S for Sierra Leone ~ Kanya / Kanyah

Event: BM #44, Around the world (A - Z Series)
Choice of Country: The Republic of Sierra Leone
Capital City: Freetown
Official Language: English

We are into 4th week of our culinary marathon, 'Around the world in 30 days' and I am stopping at Sierra Leone, a West African nation for my letter 'S'.

Some tidbits about Sierra Leone:
* Sierra Leone is a west African nation bordered by Guinea and Liberia. The Portuguese explorer Pedro de Sintra visited this area in 1462 and named it 'Serra de Leôa', meaning "Lioness Mountains", for the landscape around Freetown. The Spanish rendering of this geographic formation is 'Sierra Leona', which later was adapted and, misspelled, became the country's current name.  
* It is predominantly a Muslim country with a Christian minority.  Religious violence is a rare occurrence in this nation.  
* English is the official language in government administration and is the medium of of instruction in schools. However the Krio language is used primarily for communication among ethnic groups and is spoken by 90% of the population.  
* Sierra Leone has relied on diamond mining for its economic base. It is also among the largest producers of titanium and bauxite, a major producer of gold, and has one of the world's largest deposits of rutile. Sierra Leone is home to the third-largest natural harbour in the world.   
* 70% of its people still live in poverty despite exploiting it's natural resources.
* The recent outbreak of Ebola virus has tremendously affected the economy. With the closure of borders, the cancellation of airline flights, the evacuation of foreign workers and a collapse of cross-border trade, the national deficit of Sierra Leone is widening to the point where the IMF was considering expanding its financial support.  
* Sierra Leonean cuisine includes cassava bread, fried fish, and okra soup. Stews are a fundamental part of Sierra Leone's cuisine, with groundnut stew having been called the country's national dish.
Kanya / Kanyah are sweet peanut bites from Sierra Leone and they  are popular in other West African regions as well. They are made with ingredients that are staple in West Africa and is as basic as it can get. No surprises there considering that the majority of the population lives under poverty line and families hardly could afford three meals. Kanya is prepared by pounding rice, peanuts and sugar together.
Rice is a staple food in Sierra Leone and is used in many savory / sweet dishes and where as peanuts are considered a woman's crop in Africa. Peanut plants are widely cultivated throughout Africa ever since the European explorers introduced to them in 1500s. These peanut plants soon replaced a similar African plant called the Bambara Groundnut, that was cultivated earlier in the region. Now peanuts provide a vital source of cash income for women and nutritious, high protein food which could prevent child malnutrition.
As mentioned above, these humble and tasty peanut bites needs only three ingredients - rice, peanuts and sugar and are traditionally pounded. We can of course quicken the kanya making process by using a food processor or a mixer in the modern world. One can start from the scratch and prepare their own rice flour or use the store bought rice flour. This recipe was inspired from The Congo Cookbook website and I have changed the quantities to suit my taste. I added some extra peanuts to shape  the kanya pieces and reduced the sugar to my taste. If you already have toasted rice flour and peanuts then it takes about 5 minutes to prepare this kanya.
 Toasted & skinned peanuts and toasted rice flour

Ingredients for 8 burfis:
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp roasted and skinned peanuts
6 - 7 tbsp sugar

* I used store bought rice flour but homemade flour can be used too. Toast the rice flour in a dry skillet on low flame until it changes to light brown color. Keep stirring all the while to toast uniformly and avoid burning the flour.
From L to R ~  white rice flour and toasted flour 
* Grind peanuts and sugar together into coarse crumbs using a food processor. Next add the toasted rice flour and pulse again until the mixture is a finely ground homogeneous mixture and starts to cake up as shown below.
* Press the mixture firmly into a square shaped pan and cut into squares. If you are finding it difficult to shape and the mixture is crumbling, put back the mixture into food processor and grind again until the mixture holds the shape. One can shape it into cubes or pyramids as well.
* Store these peanut bites in air-tight container if not serving immediately.


Hamaree Rasoi said...

Delicious and wholesome looking kanya. Excellent preparation.

Varadas Kitchen said...

Very simple and quick snack. Looks perfectly made.

Usha said...

Nice recipe. This such an easy recipe that can be prepared in a short notice. Bookmarking the recipe.

Priya Suresh said...

This Kanya sounds very interesting one, will give a try soon.

Manjula Bharath said...

I made a similar sweet from kenya last year for mega Bm but instead of sugar I used Brown sugar. This looks so tempting and very heathu recipe choice dear :) they look fabulous !!

Srivalli said...

Wow reading your notes, it feels like we would come some of our peanut and rice creations found in their cuisine as well. This dish is exactly how my MIL makes peanut rice laddo, only we shape it as balls and also add ghee as our custom..so nice to know abt this sweet..

Harini-Jaya R said...

Interesting no cook peanut bites!!

Gayathri Kumar said...

Such an easy sweet with easy to get ingredients. So much like our peanut balls, right?

Pavani N said...

That is such a simple and easy peanut burfi.
Sierra Leone is etched in my memory after watching 'Blood Diamond' movie -- it is such a impactful movie.

The Pumpkin Farm said...

ohh nice one..was not remotely aware of this place...lovely recipe

Chef Mireille said...

a lot of slaves to the Caribbean came from Sierra Leone as it was a major port for slave trade and the foods you mentioned are all so familiar to me - in fact this reminds me of something we make in Dominica called kankey except it is made with cassava

Padmajha PJ said...

Such an easy recipe!Bookmarking it..

Archana Potdar said...

Delicious and yummy. I will love to try this soon.

Sapana Behl said...

Kanya sounds so interesting .Bookmarked