…make it yourself!

Soured milk has been a part of my life for many years.

My brother and me in Côte d’Ivoire

As a kid I loved Saflait brand lait caillé, literally ‘curdled milk‘. I ladled it out of its light blue and white plastic tub, the one with the picture of the African woman smiling at you from under a big bowl balanced on her head. Stir in a sprinkling of sugar to cut the tartness and voilà: one of my favorite snacks.

In Senegal they eat a locally made soured milk called soow. What do I mean by locally made? I mean made by the women of the household. You could also buy soow in little shops, but in my village the women made it themselves. (I have to admit that I liked it more before learning how to make it from one of my Senegalese friends.)

500 grams of powdered milk
1 cup of starter, either soow or plain yogurt

Dissolve the powdered milk into the water. Stir in the starter. Cover and let sit in a cool place for three days. Serve with a little sugar, or use to make lakh or thiakry.

Gotta’ love a recipe that requires letting milk sit out for three days. But at least it’s in a cool place, right? The recipe I got from a Senegalese friend for conch (as in the shell of) called for letting sit on the roof to dry in the sun for three days!

The lait caillé stand where Cheikh and Pape would buy their soured milk

My husband Cheikh used to make lahk every night with his Senegalese family, the Dieyes. I like to think of it as the Senegalese answer to Swiss muesli (oats, dried fruit and yogurt). Swap out the oats for millet and the yogurt for soured milk.

A restaurant with Pape Dieye

Lakh façon Dieye
1 liter lait caillé
fresh coconut, chopped
handful golden raisins
1 apple, chopped
2 bananas, chopped
1 packet vanilla flavored sugar
a few drops of fleur d’orange flavor
cooked millet, cooled

Mix. Eat. Simple enough, right?

Learning how to make thiakry at the Niang’s

Another Senegalese favorite is a sweetened snack or dessert called thiakry made from millet and soow. We used to eat this soured milk treat every Sunday night in Dakar when we’d visit the Niang family.

1 liter soow
1/2 cup sugar OR 1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 packets of vanilla sugar
1 tsp ground nutmeg
4 cups cooked millet (can substitute small size couscous), cooled

Combine the soow with the sugars and nutmeg. Stir in the millet or couscous. You can also stir in dried or fresh fruit, such as raisins or chopped apples.

Now that we’re in France – a country with refrigeration in most homes – I was suprised to come across an old favorite at the Monop’: soured milk. Cheikh  spotted Bonne Maman brand lait caillé. And the kicker: there’s a recipe on the box for making it at home!

Petit Caillé
Boil one liter of fresh milk with 15cl cream. Let cool to room temperature. Stir in one pot of Petit Caillé and 3 drops of rennet. Pour into small pots and let sit overnight (about 15 hours) at room temperature, covered with a dish cloth. Refrigerate and eat either plain, with sugar, jam, honey or fresh herbs.

Puh-leeze. Only sitting out 15 hours? That’s for amateurs ;).