Niger

Named after the Niger River in West Africa, the Republic of Niger is a landlocked country located in Western Africa. At a length of 2,600 miles the Niger River is the third longest river in Africa, after the Nile and the Congo. It contains 36 families of freshwater fish and nearly 250 fish species, twenty of these are found nowhere else on the planet.

A few interesting facts
Uranium is Niger’s largest mineral export. The country is ranked fifth in Uranium production globally
Niger is one of the poorest nations on the earth. In 2014 it was ranked 188 in the world on the UN Human Development Index
Niger is home to the largest protected area in Africa, covering some 7.7 million ha. The Air and Tenere Natural Reserves is the refuge for animals like addax, Cheetah, Oryx and the gazelle
It is one of the hottest countries in the world and is famously nicknamed as ‘Frying Pan of the World’. It can get hot enough to make raindrops evaporate before they hit the ground
A dinosaur named Nigersaurus has been discovered in Niger. It had a long neck and a mouth like a hammerhead shark with up to six hundred teeth for grazing ferns. It lived during the middle Cretaceous period, about 115 to 105 million years ago

Typical Nigerien meals consist of a starch (rice being the most popular) paired with a sauce or stew. Some dishes I came across were Cecena (black-eyed pea and onion fritters), Fari masa (deep fried dough, served with stews), Beignet (savoury wheat pastry of French origin), Fufu (paste made from yam or manioc), Jollof rice (rice and tomato dish), Dodo (fried plantains), Gumbo stew (sticky stew with okra and beef), Tukasu (mutton stew with dumplings), Salad de mangue (green salad with mango) and Chakery (sweet dessert made with cous-cous, cream, fruit and spices). I opted to make Jo jo meat balls (made with beef, green pepper, potato and egg). They were a little disappointing as they lacked flavour and didn’t hold together particularly well, as I think there was too much moisture (I have adapted the recipe below to hopefully alleviate this).

Rating: 5/10

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes

500g ground beef
1 green pepper
1 onion
2 medium potatoes
2 eggs
Salt & pepper
Plain flour
Vegetable oil for frying
Jar of tomato sauce (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180c
Place the potatoes in a food processer until they are well chopped
Remove to a tea towel and leave for a few minutes, then wring out any moisture
Place the green pepper and onion in the food processer until well chopped
Put the beef in a mixing bowl and add the chopped potatoes, onion, green pepper and eggs
Season well with salt & pepper and mix together
Place some plain flour on a plate
Roll your mixture into medium sized balls, roll each one in a little flour
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the meatballs for 5 – 8 minutes until browned
Place the meatballs in a dish and cook in the oven for around 10 minutes
You can cover the meatballs with tomato sauce before you put them in the oven or leave them plain
Serve with rice

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