Home away from home: Diaby African Market


On the outside, Diaby African Market looks just like your average bodega corner store. But once inside, it is like stepping onto a trans-Atlantic flight from JFK to Conakry with a layover in Bamako. Diaby has literally dozens upon dozens of foods I have never even heard of, let alone know how to cook with, so I asked Alpha, the owner of the store to show me around a little bit…

The first product he points out on the shelf is Fonio Precuit, a very small type of millet common in Western Africa. An extremely nutritious and fast-growing grain, it is considered West Africa’s oldest cereal and is suitable for extremely arid climates and very poor soils. It can be used to make porridge, couscous, bread, and beer. Interestingly enough, Fonio is great for people with gluten intolerance – it is gluten free! Here is a really simple recipe on how to prepare a fonio casserole.

Kandje (or Kanji) Powder is made up of a series of ground grains and cereals and is used for a breakfast porridge. This one is extremely nutritious and when mixed with curd, buttermilk, milk, or soy milk. I couldn’t find any easy recipes online, so let me know if you could find one!

Another West African mystery foodstuff I found was called Ogi-Akamu-Koko-Pap, also known as ‘instant’ fermented corn flour. It is a microwaveable flour used for porridge or a filler in stews, soups, and sauces. It has a sourdough-type taste and the texture, when cooked, is sort of like a sourdough dumpling. It is made from ground maize or cornmeal, however the corn is allowed to ferment prior to being cooked.

Similar to the Ogi is the Gari, but instead of maize it is made from ground fermented cassava. Here is a really great-sounding recipe for savory gari and eggs, a nice accompaniment with red beans and tomato sauce.

Diaby had shelf after shelf of grains, tree nuts, powders, spices, dried fish, and heaps of other imports from the Middle East and West Africa. I can’t wait to go back and share recipes with Alpha and peruse the aisles looking for new foods! mmmmmmmm

Diaby African Market is open 7 days a week from 9:00AM-6:00PM. It is located at 1164 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY, between Bedford and Franklin Avenues.

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Categories: Bed Stuy, Bulk Foods, Fish, Fulton Street, Natural Products, Small Business

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5 Comments on “Home away from home: Diaby African Market”

  1. July 25, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Any other recipe suggestions or hard to find ingredients?

  2. Emily
    July 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Do they have any ready made treats, like a bar or something to eat that does not require cooking? I would love to stop by and explore this place.

  3. July 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    They have a lot of imported snacks, foods, etc., but from what I remember, none are made on the spot. That being said, there are a number of African buffets in the area on Fulton Street which would be a good place to take a series of small samples. I am planning on doing a series on the blog of recipe/ingredient tours of the local shops, too. Let me know if you come across anything interesting!!!

  4. July 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    thats my joint!

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  1. Meal 41: Côte D’Ivoire : United Noshes - July 22, 2012

    […] made by hand out of cassava. Christiaan doubted I’d find it in the states, but my little favorite African market has it in frozen three-pound balls. You could really do fine using regular couscous, but the […]

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