Fonia Tabouli: a classic cold salad using ancient grains and fresh herbs
I’ve been working as a food stylist assistant with The Mighty Spoon for about a year now, and over the past months I have been reminded just how much there is to know about food. The world of culinary art is vast and the base of knowledge surrounding it is even wider. While most folks may never need to know the difference between a Persian lime and a key lime, or how to perfectly grill an onion, food stylists need to be experts in food on the details level.
And so, we are always, always learning. And with every new project a new skill or ingredient gets introduced. One of my recent discoveries was an ancient grain called fonia. Fonia is a staple in west Africa, and recently started gaining popularity here in the United States. It has a nutty flavor, and cooks up into a light and fluffy mass that increases in size by mind-boggling proportions. You could feed a small army from just one cup of dried fonia. It’s pretty wild to see how much it expands!
I could see using fonia to make quite a few different things. Pilaf would be a natural fit, but I suspect it would do well in stuffing, meatballs, fritters, or big leafy spinach salads. I decided to give fonia tabouli a try. It’s a relatively simple recipe. Just chopped herbs, cooked fonia (which only takes a handful of minutes), a little minced onion, and a squirt of lemon.