Woiapi: A Traditional Lakota Dessert
One group who have known and appreciated the health benefits of Aronia for hundreds of years are the Lakota! Lakota utilize Aronia, which is indigenous to the United States, on a daily basis in meals and medicine, and have done so for centuries.
Pemmican, a sort of Native “energy bar” consists of tallow, dried meat, and often, dried Aronia pressed into a cake. A caloric rich food, it can be used as a key component in meals or eaten raw as a portable snack with a long shelf-life.
Tea made with Aronia and Aronia juice itself are often used to fight the common cold. Aronia’s high levels of antioxidants and polyphenols make it a convenient and highly effective ingredient for remedies against myriad illnesses.
One of the most notable Lakota uses for Aronia today is in Wojapi, a traditional berry sauce made with Aronia and root flour. The dessert is a favorite across South and North Dakota, and is as versatile as it is tasty: It can be paired with corn bread, cake, ice cream, fry bread, or just about any dessert you’d like. Below is a recipe for Wojapi from firstnations.org if you would like to try it for yourself. Enjoy!
4 cups Aronia berries, fresh or frozen
1-2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
¼ cup water
In a saucepan, simmer berries and water over low heat, stirring occasionally. (If using fresh berries, you may need more water to keep them from scorching.)
Once the berries are broken down into a sauce, spoon out some sauce and whisk in the thickener.
Fresh berries should need 1 tablespoon, frozen might need 2 tablespoons thickener.
Whisk until completely dissolved, then add back to the rest of the sauce.
Sweeten to taste with maple syrup.
Serve on cornbread or ice cream.