Bsissa Resto Presentation - © kawa-news com

Breakfast Tunisian Style: Mix up a batch of Bsissa!

Not long ago I posted a how-to on making instant oatmeal a viable substitute for the real, stirred-for-half-an-hour deal. Today, I’m going to introduce you to an African breakfast porridge that’s been nothing less than a best-kept secret for millennia. Breakfast like a Tunisian!

Bsissa Cereal - © 2022 Elizia VolkmannBsissa: An ancient North African breakfast porridge that’s enjoying a renaissance…

Take toasted, ground wheat and barley, and flavour with fennel seed, anise and marjoram. Add chickpeas, lentils or fava beans. And zip up it up with ground sesame seeds or carob (an African tree pod that thinks it’s chocolate). What you get is Bsissa, a highly nutritious dry cereal mix that has an indefinite shelf life and can be taken anywhere you go.

The ancient tribal Tunisians developed it as an all-in-one meal they could easily take-with on trips across the Sahara desert.

How you prep it

Just add water or olive oil and mix well. The consistency can be thick and porridge-like, or thinner, like cream of wheat, according to your taste. It’s highly concentrated nutrition, so a small bowl goes a long way. And there’s nothing to prevent you from adding fruit or nuts or whatever you like on top. You can even prepare it as you might a conventional protein shake. In Tunisia, they call that ‘rowina’.

What it’s got

Just examine the ingredients list and add up the benefits: Bsissa is high in complex carbs and fibre so it releases energy slowly, has 15 to 18g of protein per 100g, and is high in vitamin C as well as minerals including iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium and calcium.

And it doesn’t taste bad, either. The toasted grains set the scene and the other ingredients – notably the sesame seeds and the spices – round out a cross between sweet and savoury with a rich, nutty foundation.

You can make it yourself!

The only thing that may be holding you back is the toasted wheat and barley. But you can toast your own easily on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet under medium low heat on the middle shelf of your oven. If you’ve toasted nuts or sesame seeds before, this is pretty much the same deal. Just make sure the grain doesn’t burn. That’ll impart a sooty, bitter flavour to the Bsissa.

A Bsissa renaissance

As a result of a current Bsissa popularity surge among North African urban dwellers, entire cottage industry businesses are being founded on making and selling both the dry powder and prepared Bsissa. Folks on the scene report it’s also beginning to appear on restaurant menus and in grocery stores across the region.

Those who value plant-based foods, organic foods and ‘health’ foods are flocking to Bsissa’s door.

Next step?

A popular breakout in Europe and North America. Though that’s still on the other side of the social horizon. All Bsissa – referred to by one reviewer as the ugly duckling of breakfast cereals – needs to take the world by storm is a bit of a beauty makeover and a major commercial backer…

~ Maggie J.


  1. what isthe ratio to Bsissa to the other ingredients olive oil water please

    1. Author


      Good Question! The recipes I’ve found generally say to add oil and mix until you get a consistency you like. Water is added when you’re making a ‘protein shake’. Again, add more or less water depending on how thick or thin you like your shake!

      If you want to make your own Bsissa powder, follow the general guideline of 3 parts wheat to one part barley, with spices and augmentations to taste. Let me know what you think!

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