This month we are traveling to a place we haven’t visited yet, The Gambia. You might wonder, why I’ve referred to it as The Gambia, instead of just Gambia. Well, the official name is the Republic of The Gambia, and it is referred to as The Gambia for short. It is just a tiny slip of a country, completely surrounded by Senegal, except for the coastline on the Atlantic Ocean at the western end.
One of their most well-known dishes is a peanut stew called Domada. Chicken Yassa is another popular dish, consisting of grilled marinated chicken with onions. Benachin, or Jolof Rice, is also considered a national dish of The Gambia. All of these dishes are readily found in Senegal as well. You can find recipes for Jolof Rice and for Chicken Yassa in the Dining for Women recipe archives.
Black-Eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Ragout is our featured recipe this month though. It is sure to please, and easy to make. You should be able to easily find the ingredients at your grocery store. I’ve called for using dried black-eyed peas, but you could use canned peas for a shortcut. But honestly, using dried peas does not add much time to the recipe. They cook pretty fast, and I think it’s worth the extra effort.
I’ve also included a recipe for Millet Beef Croquettes with Senegalese Chile Sauce. I don’t usually like to include recipes that call for frying food, but something called to me about this recipe. I think the fact that it uses millet flour sounded interesting to me, that’s something that we don’t come across too often. The spicy tomato sauce was absolutely delicious and I would recommend that you also drizzle it over the sweet potato ragout for some extra kick.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments about the recipes, I’d love to hear from you!
Black-Eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Ragout (Ndambe) (Tested)
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Here is an easy recipe sure to please. Start to finish time is under an hour. You should be able to easily find the ingredients at your grocery store. I’ve called for using dried black-eyed peas, but you could use canned peas for a shortcut. But honestly, using dried peas does not add much time to the recipe. They cook pretty fast, and I think it’s worth the extra effort. This can be made a day ahead of time and rewarmed for serving.
½ pound black-eyed peas (about 1 generous cup), soaked in water for 1 hour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tbsp. vegetable oil, or red palm oil
1 onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
1 bell pepper (any color), finely chopped
1 tbsp. finely chopped ginger
½ pound plum tomatoes, chopped, about 1 heaping cup
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes, about 2 heaping cups
Salt and pepper to taste
Drain the peas, and put into a pot along with 1 quart of water. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer, for about twenty minutes. Add the salt halfway through the cooking time. At the end of the twenty minutes the peas should be mostly tender. Be careful not to overcook, they will finish cooking in the ragout. Drain.
While the peas are cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat with the oil. Add the onion. bell pepper and ginger, sauté for a few minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Next add the tomatoes and allow to simmer for a few more minutes. Finally, add the sweet potatoes and enough water to barely cover, about 1 ½ cups. Cover the pan, and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, maybe still a bit firm in the middle. My sweet potatoes took only about 7 minutes to cook. If yours are larger they will take longer. They will cook further once the peas are added, so again I caution you not to overcook them.
Add the black-eyed peas to the sweet potatoes and simmer over low heat for ten more minutes to blend the flavors. Add salt to taste, and add a splash of additional water if necessary.
I think this dish would be nicely complemented by the Senegalese Chile Sauce (Sous Kaani) also posted with this month’s recipes.
Recipe and photo credit: Linda McElroy
Adapted from “Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal,” by Pierre Thiam