Haricot rouge sucré
Local Gorom, or the Dori sweet red bean, is a variety of legume present in the Dori department of the dry Sahel region, where the Tuareg, Peul, Mosse and Hause peoples live, in the country’s northeast.
This annual plant can grow to a length that varies between two and five meters. The rainy season begins in June, which is the month in which grains like corn, millet and sorgum are planted. But the sweet red been is planted a month later, as this plant requires cooler temperatures. Its lifecycle varies between 70 and 90 days, and is thus harvested between the end of October and the beginning of November. The pods are long, cylindrical, and straight or slightly curved, and marked with small bulges where the beans grow. Once dried, the product is a reddish color and has a sweet flavor.
As the herds of cattle are brought to feed in the zones where this legume is cultivated during the rainy season, the bean is protected from the animals by being harvested a month too early, which greatly diminishes the product’s quality. This situation is often the cause of discontent between breeders and farmers.
The most typical recipes that use this product are: boiled red beans, which are cooked directly in the pod and then peeled and eaten in the fields, a cream of beans with salt and butter, bean sauce with baobab leaves, bean potash and millet tô (a kind of polenta), couscous with red beans and finally red bean dumplings with baobab flour and small millet. This product grows in the arid and sandy regions of Dori and Gorom-Gorom, two cities with fields of about half an acre where roughly 100 kg of beans grow. Women traditionally take care of the planting and harvest of this product, which has always represented an incredibly important food staple for familial consumption.
The red bean is also often used among the so-called “cousin families” (the sub-groups of the Peul ethnicity) to make fun of one another and to strengthen bonds. A basket full of red beans can be sent to a family, suggesting that they don’t have enough to eat and thus need free food. During marriage ceremonies, in the Sahel region, these red beans are prepared to show the family of the bride the abundance and wealth of the new house. Still in the vein of friendship and brotherhood, the Peul send red beans, milk and butter to the Mosse people, and in an act of gratitude, the Mosse send in turn their shear butter, cola, cloth and tobacco. A common saying is that “every Peul has his Mosse”, which underlines the reciprocity of these good-natured barbs.
Dori sweet red beans are sold in local markets, but more often are used for personal consumption. Any surplus is sold to earn a bit of spending money for the family. This legume is at risk of disappearing due to the ever greater introduction of improved and hybrid varieties of beans which are more productive and profitable for the farmers, though they have absolutely no tie to the local culture and traditions.