Have you had your ogi today?

Ogi? What’s that? Cornmeal or maize or mealie meal porridge as it is called in Nigeria, that’s what. However ogi is the distinctively fermented version and is sour to taste. When not fermented, it is known by many a glorious name. Motogo in Botswana and South Africa and bota in Zimbabwe. Botswana has a fermented sorghum version known as ting. In Ghana, Hausa koko is the fermented millet version, often eaten with bean cake. More on that in another post.

I had a colourful experience with cornmeal porridge during my 22 day vegan challenge and thought I would share how creative it can be. As each day went by, my creativity grew as I learned more and more about go-to vegan foods (more like treats!) So cornmeal porridge, we usually have it for….

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Breakfast: Cornmeal porridge is what I would define as Africa’s continental breakfast. The African way to cook it is with water and a pinch of salt, yielding a low fat dish. It is usually served plain with sugar or with a bit of butter mixed into it. Some add milk, however in West Africa, evaporated milk is a must. I avoided sugar and opted to sweeten my porridge with a combination of fresh and dried fruits and spices. Above, I made cornmeal porridge mixed with a banana, medjool date and cinnamon smoothie topped with mixed fruit and nuts plus goji berries, with a burst of vitamin C from these sliced kiwifruit. Cornmeal porridge, in all its forms, is well and truly the continental breakfast of Africa.

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Zimbabwe style cornmeal porridge with peanut butter, although it was very pale. In Shona it is called “bota une dovi.” I topped it with a banana, fig and medjool date smoothie.
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Porridge with peanut butter topped with a banana, raisin and cinnamon smoothie and sliced strawberries.

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Bota une dovi topped with a banana, pear, strawberry and medjool date smoothie. Stir it into the porridge or enjoy the topping bite by bite.

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Topped with a thick banana, nectarine and medjool date smoothie plus sliced strawberries. On this day, I really started to feel as though my kitchen had been touched by an angel. But it might have been Mickey Mouse.

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A morning is a good morning when your belly is full. Cornmeal porridge with peanut butter. No sugar added, just made with a little salt and topped with organic banana, kiwifruit, goji berries, raisins and raw Peruvian cacao nibs. Have I got the world on my plate for breakfast or what?

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When it comes to eating seasonally available foods, incorporating them into breakfast is a must do. Being in the UK, I made stewed rhubarb for the very first time in my life and used it as a topping for my cornmeal porridge.

Recipe: 4 rhubarb stalks, 3 cardamom pods, juice of 1 orange, 1 tbsp sunflower spread (optional), 2 tbsp raw sugar

Method: Stew it then spoon it!

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I definitely ended up with way too much on my busy plate but it tasted good. I piled on banana, soy yoghurt, raw cacao nibs, pistachios and mixed fruit and nuts.

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Then of course there is always the opportunity to take it right back to the modest porridge that it is.

To cook is to live. To eat with your eyes is to well and truly eat.

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