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Food Explanations

Afra (Barbecue)

Beef Stew

Catfish Stew


Chicken Yassa


Fish Stew

Jollof Rice - Benachin

Okra Stew - Superkanja

Peanut Stew - Domoda

Spinach Stew - Plasas

Yam Dumplings - Fufu

Traditional Gambian dishesJollof Rice, Benachin cooked in homes are mostly rice, the staple food, with a covering of various spicy sauces as on the right. However, steamed millet, couscous, cassava is also eaten. The defining ingredients for these various dishes are either peanut butter paste (Domoda), ladies fingers (Okra), palm oil (chew deu terr) or edible leaves such as spinach or cassava leaves. Very popular among poor families is Mbahal which is rice mixed with grated peanuts, dried fish such as bonga. Many of these dishes are also common to Senegalese cooking as both countries have common cultural ties.

Some of the best known authentic dishes are 'Domoda' (peanut butter sauce), 'supakanja' (okra stew), 'benachin' (Jolof Rice), 'Chere' (couscous type millet), chicken 'Yassa' (fried chicken in onions).

Lunch is usually cooked for a couple of hours until the meat is well cooked - though for fish dishes, the fish may be removed after a short cooking time and replaced towards the end of the cooking time.

Most urban Gambians eat bread, butter and/or jam for breakfast. People may also have 'Chura Gerrte' (rice and peanuts - boiled) or 'ruy' (pap), with added yoghurt or tinned milk.

For the majority of Gambians afternoon lunch is the most important meal of the day.

The main staple dish in The Gambia is rice with a choice of stew - made with either fish, chicken, beef, lamb or goat - usually cooked with vegetables, spices and sometimes peanut butter. Pork is NOT on the menu for 90 percent of Gambians who are Muslims, though it is available for Christians in many supermarkets and from specialised pig breeders.

Lunch is served in a large, common food bowl next to which the diners sit on the floor or a wooden stool. When eating you use your right-hand (washed), though many urban men (and some women) may use a spoon.

For dinner people eat either fried fish, oysters, shrimps, chicken and fried beef with onions. These may then be served with salad and / or bread or couscous. Others may have 'Chura Gerrte' or 'Ruy' (Coos porridge).

Increasingly Gambians are eating more convenience foods, particularly in the evenings, and this has begun to lead to health problems associated with high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

Popular cooking seasonings:
Jumbo and Maggi Cubes are similar to bouillon cubes, and are widely used to season all types of Gambian dishes and fare, from sauces to sandwiches. They are available at the market and most local shops and sold by box or individually. Simply crush a bit on the edge of the packaged cube and then peel open the package to sprinkle the salty substance over your food.

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