Fonio is a tiny, nutritious, climate-smart ancient grain that has been prized across West Africa for over 5,000 years. It's light and fluffy, just a bit nutty, fast-cooking and very forgiving in the pot (in the Sahel, they say “Fonio never embarrasses the cook!”). This savory Pilaf is inspired by Jollof, the rich and savory one-pot party dish made with tomato, onion, bell pepper, and chilis, traditionally served with braised meat or fish. Yolélé's Jollof Pilaf blends these iconic flavors with fonio, making for an easy-to-prepare and nutritious base for stews, braised meats, and hearty greens and beans.
Founded in 2017 by Harlem-based chef and restaurateur Pierre Thiam, Yolélé’s mission is to be a stabilizing force for West African smallholder farmers. By direct-sourcing Fonio, West Africa’s oldest cereal grain, Thiam and his team are creating a market for traditional crops grown under resilient farming systems in order to foster a more biodiverse, drought-tolerant landscape across West Africa. Devoting more land to this kind of farming has the potential to regenerate and regreen the Sahel, and provides economic stability for the mostly-female workforce of independent farmers.