This flat skillet cake is made from a fermented rice paste with a spongy consistency and texture reminiscent of Somalian cambabuur, South Indian dosas, and Ethiopian injera. Sinasir is a feast for the senses. The lovely fragrance of toasted rice is accompanied by an even lovelier texture of a crackly exterior with a moist interior. It liberally soaks up stews and sauces, and is a divine snack when drizzled in local honey.
This fermented paste is a base for a toasted northern Nigerian rice cake perfect for sopping up soups and stews. It’s important to go with a short grain rice here. The glutinous texture creates a rich framework for absorption in the finished cake. After grinding the rice into a paste, leave the mixture to ferment at room temperature. This fermented rice paste will last for up to a month refrigerated. Keep it out of the refrigerator for up to an hour before use.
For Fermented Rice Paste:
- 2 cups short-grain white rice
For Manshanu (Clarified Milk Fat):
- 1 pound unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon yeast
- 2 cups fermented rice paste
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup manshanu
- Honey, for serving
For Fermented Rice Paste:
- Place rice in a bowl and cover with 2 inches of water. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and soak for 1 to 4 hours. The rice grains should plump up and break easily after soaking. Using a mesh strainer, completely drain out the soaking liquid and move the grains to a blender. Add in 1½ cups water and puree the soaked rice on high speed to a smooth batter. Move the batter to a clean bowl, cover with a dishtowel, and allow to ferment at room temperature for 24 hours. If you want it rather sour, allow 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.
- In a shallow saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Cook until the milk solids separate and float above the fat. Skim off the milk solids using a slotted spoon. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until the moisture is cooked off and any solids that remain begin to brown slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Cool slightly and pour the manshanu in a jar. Seal and store for up to 6 months in the refrigerator. Yields about 3/4 cup.
- Dissolve the yeast in a small bowl with 1/4 cup warm water and set aside. Pour the fermented rice paste into a medium bowl and stir in the salt. Pour the yeast mixture into the paste and salt and mix.
- Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size and foamy, about 1 hour (at this point 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).
- Stir the batter until smooth, making sure to get any paste that has settled along the bottom of the bowl during rising. The batter should coat your spoon or spatula.
- Over medium-high heat, warm a well-seasoned small (8-inch) skillet and add a tablespoon of manshanu. Ladle in ½ cup of batter and spread to the edges of the pan. Cook until the surface of the cake is dotted with holes and the edges are crisp golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Use a spatula to loosen the cake from the pan and flip to cook the other side, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more manshanu with every new cake. Serve warm, by itself drizzled with honey or alongside Beef Suya or soups such as Miyan Taushe or Miyan Kuka.