29th January 2019
The Gambia has two main mouthwatering dishes: the national dish ‘Domoda’ is a delicious meat and peanut stew served with rice and the Wolof dish ‘Benachin’ which literally means ‘one pot’ where rice, vegetables and fish or meat is cooked together in a tomato based sauce.
They also have many traditional dishes such as: Plassas (what a name!) which is basically boiled green leaf fried in palm oil and Yassa which is rice cooked with chicken or fish in a tangy, spicy sauce.
Then there is the all-time favourite West African dish which originates from Nigeria, the labour-intensive ‘fufu’ (rice pounded into flour and made into small balls that are then boiled and eaten dipped in meat soup) and the famous ‘gari’ (instant cassava/ manioc flakes boiled and sautéed with vegetables and fish or chicken) served as a quick snack when the hunger pangs hit you.
The Indian presence in The Gambia is very recent with people remembering growing up in the nineties with businesses here mainly run by Lebanese merchants. Within the last ten years, however, Indian businessmen seem to have taken over The Gambia and they now run almost all the hardware & electrical shops, supermarkets and restaurants in Banjul and its suburbs.
The restaurants have, however, adapted their signature Indian dishes to suit the palate of the Gambians so that the biriyani one orders at the neighbourhood Indian cafe ‘Tandoori Nights’, for instance, is smothered in a red tomato sauce (just like the Gambian ‘Benachin’) and does not taste even remotely like the biriyani we eat in SL and the subcontinent.
There is a lovely little restaurant within walking distance of our place called Mama’s which is popular with European backpackers where Paul goes to have draught beer with his friend William and Rai and I sometimes drop in for a mid-week meal of fish and chips. They also serve a delicious plate of ‘Domoda’ and Jordan makes sure he swings by if he knows that Daddy is there because he loves their Friday ‘Seafood Buffet’ with fish, calamari and prawns.
There is also a brunch buffet offered by the Butcher’s Shop restaurant – and yes, it was (and still is) a butcher’s shop that expanded into a restaurant. They do good western dishes and are known for their confectionery items. However, other than what they offer at their Sunday buffet, you need to order cakes beforehand because they don’t have any over-the-counter baked goods for sale. In fact, there are absolutely no baked goods shops anywhere in the country. How weird is that??!!! Memories of The Fab, P&S, Green Cabin and Java Lounge bring tears to my eyes…..