12 February 2006

Senegalese recipes

general principles: Almost everything is in big pots on high heat. Use lots of mustard and garlic, and add the mustard early so it infuses the onions.

fish balls

Mash up pepper, garlic, parsley, Maggi (basically bouillon cubes, but the Senegalese version has MSG too), tuna and a little flour---in that order---in either a food processor (Western version) or a giant mortar and pestle (Senegalese version). Form into little balls (it helps to rub your hands with oil for this) and deep fry in batches, turning only once or twice through the whole process. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon when each side is done.

Next, dice onions and fry in the leftover oil (preferably peanut oil) until light brown, then mix in a good deal of mustard (something like smooth Dijon) and keep cooking for a few minutes. Meanwhile you should be boiling some vegetables (like eggplant, cabbage and carrot) in a sepearate pot. Once the onions have absorbed the mustard, add the vegetables and just enough of the water to cover them (using water that's been boiled means tap water is fine). Add salt, more Maggi and a little vinegar. Boil till everything is soft enough, then add the fish balls, and cook on low a little more. Serve with (short-grain) rice.

Fermented lemon juice: Add salt to lemon juice and let it sit in the sun for awhile. Here I've only tasted the final result.

Yassa chicken

Again, food process peppercorns, then garlic. Then combine with (optionally fermented) lemon juice, Maggi, lots of mustard, and a little water and boil chicken in this. Once the chicken is nearly cooked, remove it from the marinade and grill it on both sides. Meanwhile boil vegetables separately (carrots, eggplant, "African eggplant", whatever). Meanwhile, slice onions and fry in a ton a of (peanut) oil until brown. Then add mustard, cook for a little while, add the chicken marinade, the vegetables and, if necessary, some water. When the chicken has been grilled on both sides, add that too, but cook on low, and only long enough for the chicken to absorb some of the sauce. Optionally separate chicken, vegetables and sauce for serving. Serve with rice.


Mix flour, salt and yeast, then add just enough water until it's nice and doughy. Knead well, brush with a little oil, and leave covered in a warm place; then repeat. Prepare tuna as for fish balls above, but cook in oil for awhile, then mix tomato concentrate with water and cook in this mixture until most of the water is gone. Then let it cool. The tuna should be breaking into smaller and smaller pieces, but by the end it may be necessary to further shred it. Grab a small ball of dough and flattened on an oiled surface, put a little bit of tuna in the middle, fold over, and press the edges shut with a fork. Deep fry in batches until golden brown, turning once or maybe twice. Sometimes served with a tomato-onion sauce, but instead this recipe combines the tomato with the tuna.

These really are tasty, but I'm not sure my sketchy description is good evidence for this. A shout-out goes to our femme de menage Yaye, for among other things, cooking all this, and then having the patience to teach me. At some point, Shefali will enter a recipe for Mafe into the comments and I'll update the post.

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