Thiakry is a delicious traditional West African dessert. This sweet and creamy dessert made with millet couscous originated in Senegal and Gambia. This traditional version is cooked with fragrant spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and finished with a sprinkle of chopped nuts and raisins.
Black history month virtual potluck
This recipe is my contribution to the 2023 Eat the Culture Black History Month Virtual Potluck. This year, the theme is Black Resistance, and together, we are recognizing the remarkable and, frankly, underrated resistance of our ancestors in bringing culinary traditions across the Atlantic to shape the vibrance of Black cuisine that we know and love today.
They physically and mentally carried African foodways across the deadly Middle Passage to pass down through generations. This year's Black History Month Virtual Potluck traces popular dishes of the Diaspora from their West African roots to North America and beyond.
Thiakry is a sweet and creamy dessert that originated in Senegal and Gambia. From there, enslaved West Africans brought it to the Caribbean and American South. Today, I'm teaching you how to make Thiakry from West Africa and encourage you to follow the story through Sweet Rice from Trinidad and Rice Pudding from the American South.
Share these recipes with your friends and loved ones, and follow each participant by using the hashtag #BHMVP2023 on Instagram.
You can grab the full list of recipes from this year's collaboration on the Eat the Culture website.
Why you'll love this recipe
Thiakry is also known in other west African countries as Dégué. It's a classic comfort food with a rich and sweet flavor.
You're going to love this recipe for so many reasons!
- Thiakry has so many creative topping combinations! From bananas and papayas to raisins and dried cherries... your options are endless.
- Enjoy this dish as an after-dinner dessert or even as a sweet grain-based breakfast. It'd even make a delicious snack!
- If you're short on time, this recipe only takes 30 minutes from start to finish. So it's super easy to pull together for a gathering of friends.
Key ingredients and why we use them
This dessert has simple ingredients with many options for substitutions.
Millet or Couscous: Thiakry traditionally calls for couscous made from millet, a whole grain. However, you can use regular couscous (made from semolina flour) and have success with this recipe. The flavor profile and texture will be very similar.
Condensed Milk: This ingredient is commonly used in desserts and brings much-needed sweetness to this recipe. Condensed milk is a thick, sweetened milk product made by heating milk and sugar until about 60% of the water has been removed.
Greek Yogurt: Yogurt gives our recipe a slightly tangy taste. Some versions of Thiakry actually call for sour cream, which can be substituted in equal amounts. This article provides acceptable substitutions for Greek Yogurt.
Vanilla Extract: Vanilla adds a subtle flavor to this recipe. If you don't have it on hand, there are several substitutes for vanilla extract that will work in a pinch. Some recipe variations also call for orange blossom water.
The entire recipe is below and be printed to save for later. But, before you get there, let's walk through it step-by-step so you understand what you're doing beforehand.
Step 1) Cook couscous in a saucepan, and then fluff to separate the grains.
Step 2) Whisk condensed milk, yogurt, and milk in a large bowl. Add spices.
Step 3) Combine couscous with milk mixture together in a bowl.
Step 4) Stir until well combined, then cover and chill for 20 minutes.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can use couscous or millet in this recipe. However, the cooking time will vary between the two, so ensure you follow the cooking directions on the package.
Yes, both are sweet grain-based dishes originating in West Africa. However, there are many subtle variations of this dish. For example, Brukina is a similar yogurt drink made with millet.
This recipe calls for 20 minutes of chilling before serving. However, it can be served warm if desired.
Make ahead and storage tips
Make-Ahead: You can make this dessert the night before and store it in the refrigerator. If you find it has thickened up, add more half-and-half until it reaches your desired consistency. If you have extra half-and-half leftover from this recipe, you can freeze some to use later.
Storage: You can store Thiakry in the fridge for up to four days in an airtight container. I do not recommend freezing it for storage. Instead, use the tips above to thin out the mixture if the couscous absorbs too much liquid in the refrigerator.
There are several different ways to switch up this recipe according to your tastes! Feel free to top your dish with any dried or fresh fruits. The sweetness of the recipe can also be adjusted by adding granulated sugar. If you find it too sweet, reduce the amount of condensed milk, and add a bit of half-and-half.
Try these other dessert recipes
If you're in the mood for more dessert recipes, check out these favorites from My Sweet Precision!
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- medium saucepan
- large bowl
- 1¾ cup water
- 1½ cup couscous see notes below if using millet
- 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- ¾ cup half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- chopped nuts optional for garnish
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the couscous and cover tightly with a lid. Remove the pan from the heat, and let the couscous steam for five minutes. Use a fork to fluff the mixture.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, yogurt, and half-and-half. Add the vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg and whisk until combined.
- Stir in the couscous, and mix until well combined. Ensure that all chunks of couscous are broken up and evenly distributed in the mixture.
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Serve topped with raisins and chopped nuts.
Notes and Tips
- Serving Suggestions: Serve Thiakry topped with shredded coconut, pineapples, bananas, or papaya. Most fresh or dried fruits will pair nicely with this dessert.
- Using Millet: This recipe is traditionally made with millet couscous. I recommend using the instructions on your package for appropriate cooking times, as they can vary from brand to brand.
- Make-Ahead: You can make this dessert the night before and store it in the refrigerator. If you find it has thickened up, add more half-and-half until it reaches your desired consistency.
Did you make this recipe?! First, let me say THANK YOU for giving it a try!
Please leave us a rating and feedback in the comments section at the bottom of this post. I always love to hear your thoughts and ideas on what went well — and didn't — with a recipe!