Afra is a very popular late night snack. Typically you’ll select your choice of meat which will be chopped up in front of you, seasoned and grilled then served with mustard or a spicy sauce, however, in my experience at least, the quality can vary greatly.
Akara (pictures above) is a delicious local dish served for breakfast sometimes in tapalapa bread. It’s made from black-eyed peas, grounded into flour and deep-fried. I first tried it and loved it at Ngala Lodge where it was served with an onion, chilli and Jimbo (seasoning) sauce.Akara is a favourite but others include Oleleh and Abala, street food snacks, again made from black-eyed peas, and traditionally come wrapped in a banana leaf.
This is another common dish that you’ll often find on restaurant menus, usually in the form of Chicken Yassa. The chicken is cooked with chillies, lime, onions and mustard and a stock cube of Maggi © cubes, a popular ingredient in the Gambia. Variations that you’ll sometimes find include beef, fish, prawn or vegetable.
Benechin literaly means ’one pot’ and can be cooked with chicken or other meat but fish is probably the most common variation. I’ve made this with Ida Cham who runs cooking classes.Before the class we headed to the beach not for a swim but for the fish market. Ida selected a John Dory fish and a Red Snapper. She also used a small amount of dried salted fish for extra flavour. While the fish sellers scaled and gutted the fish, we bought other ingredients including tomatoes, carrots, spring onions, sweet potatoes, onions, aubergine, cassava, bitter tomatoes and butternut squash. Chilli is also an important ingredient.
Made from the fruit of the giant baobab trees, this pale brown, non-alcoholic drink is delicious and good for you, being full of vitamins, calcium and fibre. It’s also probiotic I’m told, so stimulates good bacteria. It’s worth noting that you can now buy it in health food shops in England in powder form and people use it in various ways including flavouring yogurts and smoothies.
This peanut based dish is probably the most cooked dish in The Gambia and comes served with white rice. Domada is made from peanuts with tomato paste, mustard, black pepper and onions.
This is a tasty spicy thick stew which is very easy to make. Very spicy and it’s commonly prepared with fish, cow foot, chicken, or meat.
Also known as Superkanja, this stew is made with beef, fish, onions and, of course, okra and sometimes prawns or crabs.
Fish Balls (Bullet)
Over the years, The Gambia has been trying to expose its different cuisine to many visiting tourists. Fish Balls can be seen in almost all the Hotels and restaurants around the Tourism Development area. If you want to have the best taste of this real Gambian owned dish you need to consider the following ingredients: onions, tomatoes, grind moulded bonga-fish mixed with breadcrumbs, freshly chopped parsley, black pepper, oil, stock cube, tomato paste, fresh chilli and boiled white rice.
A delicious and refreshing non-alcoholic drink made from dried hibiscus (sorrel) flowers and sugar.