Anybody who has been to Mali would tell you that you do not come here for its food. Unlike, say, Vietnam (a country that had also been colonized by the French), this landlocked nation has no robust food culture to speak of. But as the introduction of this book posits, it does not have to be this way. It has magnificent potentials to develop a foodscape that can elevate it on the same league as its neighbor Senegal. Its agricultural products are at par with those of any developing, or even developed, country around the world. There are many food items found in Mali that can put this country of more than 15 million people on the gastronomical map.
One such item is the soumbala (or sumbala), a condiment used widely across the country. Rich in proteins and a variety of dietary minerals, this is comparable to the miso paste that Asia, particularly Japan, regularly uses in their cooking. It has that pungent smell. Its taste reminds one of a very mild fish sauce. They come in balls or patties, and adding salt ensures their quality and facilitates a longer storage life. When used creatively in cooking, the dish can be rewarding for its lusciousness and nutritional elements. This particular dish substantiates this claim.
 
Let us get cooking.