Soumbala is a fermented paste made from the seed of the African locust bean tree (Parkia biglobosa). It is used widely throughout West Africa as a condiment for soups, riz gras (“fat rice”) and other dishes. Much like miso from East Asia, it is made from the boiled seed, which is then left to ferment. Soumbala is sold in small balls in local markets and sometimes also in powdered form. As the locust bean tree is only rarely planted, and pods are usually harvested from wild trees, the supply is endangered. Furthermore, industrial soup stock cubes have begun to replace this traditional condiment in many homes in Burkina Faso.
Image: Marco Schmidt