Sorry that I haven’t been able to post in a while! Unfortunately, uni exams and dissertation work has got in the way of my blogging!
Okay, so possibly one of the parts of travelling that I most enjoy is getting to try all of the amazing local foods, so this blog post is going to be all about the local Gambian dishes that I got to try whilst in the country (including a recipe I managed to get for my favourite dish!)
One of the things that really struck me about the local food was just how fresh it was. Our hotel complex had banana trees all over the place and these were served as part of the breakfast buffet. Breakfasts were simple, consisting of fresh fruit, bread with butter, cheese and jam, tea, coffee and fruit juice along with eggs.
Lunches and dinners were, again, incredibly fresh, often using produce from local stalls bought that morning.
Three of the dishes commonly seen on menus were Yassa, Domoda and (my personal favourite) Benechin. Variations of all of these dishes can be seen across the entire west coast of Africa, but they generally consist of the same/similar ingredients, just in different amounts. For example, ‘Yassa’ is a garlic and lemony dish, commonly made with chicken or white fish. However, the Senegalese version (made in Senegal, bordering The Gambia) tends to have less lemon, favouring vinegar to give a slightly more acidic taste. Domoda is a spicy, peanut butter stew, again, commonly made with chicken and white fish.
However, my favourite dish was by far Benechin, also know as Jollof rice. This is a dish originating from the Wollof tribe from Senegal, who originally moved over the border to The Gambia (the Wollof language is now one of the most commonly spoken in The Gambia). It’s is a tomato-based rice dish, which can be made with a range of vegetables added to it (I tend to just use whatever can be found in the fridge). It’s ideal for both lunch and dinner, or even as a side dish.
Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a traditional Gambian recipe, however, my wonderful mum got me a recipe book for Christmas, which happened to have a Gambian benechin recipe! I’ve included a copy of the recipe below, along with a link to the book for those who might be interested.
1 x tbsp olive/vegetable oil
2 x large onions
2 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 x red/yellow pepper, diced
4 x tbsp tomato Puree
1/4 x tbsp cayenne pepper
1 x tsp curry powder
1 x bay leaf
1 x sprig fresh thyme
1 x veg stock cube
225g x long grain rice
Salt and Pepper
1. For the rice, heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onions over a gentle heat until translucent.
2. Stir in the canned tomatoes, red pepper and tomato purée, then season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and the cayenne or chilli. Add the curry powder, bay leaf and thyme, then pour in 550ml/19fl oz of water and crumble in the stock cube.
3. Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20–30 minutes.
4. Rinse the rice well to remove excess starch, then add it to the tomato mixture.
5. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 25–30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.
6. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve the joffol with fried plantains and a crisp green salad.
And for those who may be interested in getting the cookbook, here’s a link to the Amazon page;
Hope you all enjoyed this blog post and let me know how you all enjoy the Benechin recipe!
Have any of you guys tried Gambian food? What world foods would you guys recommend?