Challenge accepted: bouye

How would you like to find this in your kitchen?

Recently I challenged myself to start discovering some of the more exotic local produce available on the vendors’ stands in Senegal. I started this week. Well, kind of. I ventured beyond my norm, but the fruit that appeared in my kitchen came from friend, not a vendor. Anyway…

Meet the baobab fruit, also known as monkey bread or pain de singe.

Baobab fruit

It grows on the famous baobab tree which, legend has it, was the most beautiful tree in the world. But she became vain. So God picked her up by the trunk, flipped her upside down and stuck her in the dirt. So what we see now are her roots sticking up in the air.

Baobab trees

There are a couple of things you can do with the baobab fruit once you crack it open. Inside are dark seeds covered in a white, dry pulp. (Apparently very high in vitamin C and calcium.) You can suck on them like candy and then spit out the seeds. Not bad, but nothing I’d want to chow down on at the movies.

More commonly, the pulp is used to make a drink called bouye. It has the consistency of chalky milk and the flavor of… mild tropical. That’s about the best I can describe it. It’s not really citrusy, but tastes like sunshine, flowers and summer fruits.

Pulp-covered seeds

Our house-helper walked me through the recipe for bouye.


Pull out the white pulpy seeds from the baobab fruit. Put them in a large bowl and cover them with warm water. Let sit a couple hours until the pulp is hydrated. Using your fingers, work out the dark seeds, leaving just the wet white pulp in the liquid. Stir, stir, stir. The liquid will become opaque. Strain out the fibrous pulp using a cheesecloth or very fine wire mesh. Sweeten the remaining liquid with sugar. Chill before serving.

Serving suggestion: It is said that drinking too much bouye can make you constipated. Never fear! Drinking too much bissap loosens you up. Fortunately the solution is delicious. Mix equal parts bouye and bissap to make a cocktail. Yum!

6 Responses

  1. It is also a great anti-inflammatory. When I had a lower respiratory infection back in January, I was embarrassed during a visit to my in-laws by an uncontrollable coughing fit.

    But never fear. My mother-in-law (also know as my own personal Senegalese superwoman) sent us home with an xxx (that’s 3 x’s) large bag of bouye and instructed my husband on how to prepare it for me.

    He melted the fruit down in a teapot, then strained it before serving to me in a coffee cup. I drank it down and before I knew it I was not only able to breath easily, the feeling of a Mack truck taking up camp on my chest was gone.

    The effects lasted for about 4-6 hours. Enough time for me to get a bit of rest.


  2. […] discovers exotic local produce in Senegal: “Recently I challenged myself to start discovering some of the more exotic local […]


  3. I just wept a little. This was my all time favorite drink when I lived in Dakar. I loved it best frozen like a slushie.

    Thanks for the reminder of a sweet memory!


  4. Khady, is there any way to get some of that here? In the dried form? Maybe when we come there…or when you next come here? sounds like a great remedy for resp infection according to Raquel’s comment. Would it be safe for toddlers? Anyway, I seem to get resp infections yearly.

    But your description of it’s taste sounds so wonderful.


  5. I am looking forward to one of those bouye and bissap cocktails when we come to visit!


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