Gambian dishes 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
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.
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.
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.