Sinasir (Fermented Rice Skillet Cakes)
A flat skillet cake made from a batter of fermented rice, sinasir is a recipe from Northern Nigeria similar in texture to Somali cambaabur and Ethiopian injera. Its spongy texture makes it an excellent vehicle for sopping up soups, stews or chunks of beef suya. It is also quite lovely when eaten as a snack, drizzled lightly with honey. This version gets a bit of nuttiness from the short-grain brown rice, and the scent of toasted rice will waft through your kitchen as you cook. The fermentation step in the beginning is crucial, as it gives the finished cakes a slight sourness. For a more intense tang, ferment slowly in the refrigerator using the directions below.
- Serves: 10 persons
- 2cups short-grain brown rice
- 2teaspoons kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
- 1tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1teaspoon instant yeast
- Neutral oil, for frying
Step 1Place rice in a medium bowl and cover with 2 inches of water. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let soak for 1 to 4 hours. The rice grains should plump and break easily after soaking. Using a mesh strainer, completely drain the soaking liquid and move the grains to a blender. Add in 1½ cups water, and process the soaked rice on high speed until it’s a smooth batter. (Makes 2 cups fermented rice paste.) Move the batter to a clean large bowl, cover with a dish towel, and allow to ferment at room temperature for 24 hours. If you want it rather sour, allow it to ferment for up to 24 hours at room temperature, then cover and transfer to the refrigerator to ferment slowly for up to 1 week.
Step 2Using a whisk or a spatula to combine, add salt to the bowl of fermented brown rice paste. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and yeast, and add ¼ cup warm water. Set aside till foamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Once foamy, mix the yeast mixture into the rice batter, and stir well to combine.
Step 3Cover and allow to rise until doubled in volume and foamy, about 1 hour. (You can also leave the batter to ferment and develop more flavor by letting it rise slowly in the refrigerator over a 12-hour period.).
Step 4Gently stir the batter, making sure to get any paste that's settled at the bottom of the bowl. Allow to sit uncovered for another 10 minutes at room temperature before frying.
Step 5To fry, warm up a small (8-inch) well-seasoned or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil. Ladle in ⅓ cup batter and tilt the pan to spread to the edges of the pan. Cover the pan with a lid or strip of foil. Cook until the surface of the cake is translucent and dotted with holes, 1½ minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the edges pull away from the pan and the contact surface is a crisp golden brown, 1½ minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and fold the sinasir into a half-moon shape.
Step 6Repeat Step 5 with the remaining batter, adding ½ teaspoon oil with every new cake and lowering the heat to medium-low as necessary. These can be served savory alongside beef suya, or sweet by drizzling lightly with honey.