Andrew's Essential Fiery Food Facts that a Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know Part 12

Posted on 22nd April 2017

Fiery Cuisines Part 9 Senegal...

I really love Senegalese style food, their use of Scotch Bonnet Chillies, fits right in with my tastes.
They have a long history.
Senegal has been inhabited since the pre-historic times era but the best way to understand this African country and its food, we need to look at the western part of the continent. West Africa consisted of a multitude of really complex societies made up of clans, chiefdoms and states that, mostly, migrated from one region to the other, but also farmed and herded cattle and it was often necessary to travel in order to find grazing for the cattle. Once iron was discovered, populations expanded and the people migrated & as the populations grew, societies became even more complex. On the east coast of Africa trading with the east (they traded with countries as far afield as China) was brisk, it was equally vibrant on the West coast (particularly around Benin and Ghana). The trade routes, both inland and along both coasts offered many opportunities to budding entrepreneurs and markets became vitally important to the wellbeing of a society and much like today’s world whoever controlled the markets and the gold, controlled the people. Agriculture was incredibly important to the African lifestyle, as was herding with the pastoralists being far more prolific and successful in Central Africa & the great savannas. The hunter-gatherers thrived in the Kalahari as well as the rain forests of Central Africa, life hasn’t changed overly much in the past 10,000 years.
Lifestyles changed in Africa over time and farming became important with the north western agricultural settlements thriving forcing them to move from eastern Nigeria, southwards towards the border of Zaire and Zambia, travelling westward, southward and north eastward until they were met, almost head on, by tribes of herders who were moving northwards. These people were quite different to their northern cousins, far less sophisticated and not at all educated. They were, however, better herders. Understandably, around the 8th century they clashed in the Central part of Africa. West Africa was quite different to the rest of Africa, there were powerful empires and sophisticated states where succession was a way of life.
The African empire & it’s capital city was in the south eastern corner of Mauritania , not too far from the Senegal river, there the local entrepreneurs traded gold, ivory and slaves for the extremely valuable & important salt of the Sahara as well as horses, cloth, swords and notably books from North Africa and Europe. It was an educated nation and therefore controlled the gold routes, thanks to the gold. The King of Ghana was the wealthiest man on earth. The country reached its pinnacle around 1,000 AD when the Yoruba rose up & took over power with their cavalry regiments having reached up to Morocco and right down to the Senegal and the Niger river. The king of Ghana ruled his huge empire with the help of the educated viceroys and counsellors who were not, necessarily, members of his family. He taxed gold, traded with honey, cowrie shells, dried fruit and kola nuts. In the 11th century, Islamic fundamentalists, the Almoravids, swarmed out of Senegal what is known as modern day Senegal via Ghana and into Morocco and from there launched their attack on Europe from Spain.
Senegal’s Jolof Empire was founded around the 13th and 14th century and by the 16th century, it split into 4 kingdoms: the Jolof, Waalo, Cayor and Baol kingdoms. Then, in the 15th century, colonialism began. Portugal, the Netherlands & Britain grappled for control until France took over the country that had once been a minimal slave trade departure point. The Brits sneaked in to take over again briefly but by the 1850’s Senegal was totally French, a situation that lasted until the Senegalese had had enough, rebelled and merged with French Sudan to form the Mali Federation, becoming independent on the 20th of June 1960. As we have come to be expect from an African country, the Federation broke up, probably as a result of internal squabbles and from this the Republic of Mali was born. Léopold Senghor, internationally known poet, politician and statesman, was elected as Senegal’s first president in August 1960. President Senghor & Prime Minister Mamadou Dia governed (terribly) under a parliamentary system but by 1962 political infighting led to an attempted coup by Mamadou Dia; in short, the coup was stopped, Dia landed in prison and Senegal adopted an new constitution with Senghor in total control; in 1980 Senghor retired and picked a successor in the form of Abdou Diouf, who has served as president 4 times despite sporadic clashes with terrorists from the south. For an African country, Senegal has been reasonably peaceful. The various conquerors left their mark in the local languages and you hear a lot of Portuguese Créole, Wolof (Senegal’s lingua franca) and French. Senegal’s traditions are kept alive by the ‘griots’, men and women who recall and teach history through the spoken or sung word. Senegal’s cuisine has been passed on from mother to daughter for generations and secret family recipes are guarded and cherished.
The cuisine has been influenced by France, Portugal, North Africa and by a handful of ethnic groups. Senegalese restaurants are popular in many parts of the French speaking world, and the popularity is growing. Because the country borders the Atlantic Ocean, fish is an important part of the diet, One of the most common used fish is the white grouper, but you can also find mullet, tuna, swordfish or any other of the local rich variety. The preparation of the fish can be done in many different ways. Sometimes the fish are braised, others are smoked, dried or salted. This process gives a particular taste to any of the many of Senegal’s dishes. crabs, shrimps, prawns and other seafood can also be found in Senegal. The national dish of Senegal is Thiebou jen, a spicy stuffed fish simmered with vegetables in tomato paste, tamarind, and habanero pepper, and served over broken rice but they also eat quite a bit of chicken. Another of their favourite dishes is Yassa , A spicy dish of chicken marinated in lemon/lime juice and onion and then grilled and caramelized. The eating of lamb and beef; pork, however, is virtually unknown as can be expected from a largely Muslim population. Peanuts are the most important crop and found in some form in many recipes couscous, lentils, black-eyed peas, lemons and a variety of local vegetables can be found on most menus. A great example of this is Salatu niebe, a colourful salad with black-eyed peas, which are native to Africa, tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley Senegalese food contains a variety of spices and food is often marinated in herbs and spices. The most common being Scotch Bonnet Chillies, Garlic, Ginger, Paprika and ground Black pepper. 
The most commonly used vegetables in Senegalese recipes are tomatoes, cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots and eggplant and okra. While peanuts, especially peanut sauce also has an place in Senegalese cuisine, like in the famous Mafé dish.. The most common dish today in the cities, especially at lunchtime, is cooked rice accompanied by fish and vegetables stewed in a tomato sauce. It is considered to be a national dish, along with chicken marinated in lemon juice over steamed rice, and peanut butter sauce over steamed rice. Peanut and palm oils serve widely for the cooking. Millet and Rice are one of the most important staple foods in Senegal. Often Millet is prepared in the form of Couscous or in a similar way like other west african Fufu. Traditionally the cultivation of rice has been important to the Casamance region and this ingredient has place in many Senegalese dishes of which the most famous one is the Wolof Rice or Thieboudienne. After meals, plain water is the main way to quench one’s thirst. But for visitors, there are always soft drinks made out of fruits such as mango, the fruit of a rubber tree, the fruit of the baobab tree, etc., or the industrially made pop drinks. The most common local soft drink is extracted from red sorrel leaves: its appearance explains its nickname, ‘Senegalese Red Vine’. After meals, the guests often share kola nuts. Imported from as far as Liberia or Ivory Coast, they have a digestive and stimulant action. Kolas also have some sacred value, as they are usually shared to seal deals, to celebrate weddings or baptisms.
Most meals are accompanied by bread. Desserts are popular here and anyone visiting the country should try at least one because they have mastered the art of using local ingredients as extravagantly as the French, often improving on it. Fresh fruit is traditionally served after a meal, followed by coffee or tea in the Arabic tradition.

Time to experience the Fiery flavours of Senegal. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do,

SENEGALESE FISH AND RICE (Thiéboudienne)

serves 8 
For the Fish and Stuffing
INGREDIENTS

1⁄4 cup Parsley finely chopped 
2 tsp. Red Habanero flakes
6 Garlic cloves, minced
2 Eshallots, chopped
100 gm Brown Onion, minced
1 tsp Sea salt 
1 tsp Gnd Black Pepper
8 x 200 gm Squire Fillets

For the Thiéboudienne

INGREDIENTS

1⁄2 cup Palm oil
200 gm Brown Onions, chopped
1 med Green Capsicum, Diced
400gm Tomato Paste
1 ½ L Vegetable stock
250 gm Carrots, halved crosswise
1 large Eggplant, Large Dice
200 gm Turnip, cut into wedges
2 tbls. Tamarind paste
2 tbls. Fish sauce
4 cups Basmati rice
Lime wedges

Method

Make the fish and stuffing: Mix together parsley, Red Habanero flakes, Garlic, Eshallot, Onion, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Using a paring knife, cut a 5 cm slit lengthwise in each fish filet; stuff filets with the herb mixture, and set aside.
To make Thiéboudienne
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add Onions and Capsicum, and cook, about 10 minutes. Add Tomato paste; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft and paste is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. 
Add stock, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low, and add filets; cook until fish is just cooked through, about 18 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove filets and transfer to a plate, then cover to keep warm.
Add Carrots, Eggplants, Turnips, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 40 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a bowl, keep warm. Add Tamarind paste, and Fish sauce, and cook, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes.
Add Rice, and stir to combine; reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, until Rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat, and fluff rice with a fork.
To serve, divide Fish, vegetables, and Rice among serving plates, serve with lime wedges

SENEGALESE CHILLI SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

10 Scotch Bonnet chillies
200 gm Brown onion
4 Garlic cloves
2 tbls Vegetable Stock powder 
2 Basil leaves
2 tbls Parsley
280 gm Roma tomatoes 
½ -1 cup Rice Bran oil
5 gm Salt

Method

Coarsely chop the Tomatoes, Onions, and discard stems of the Chillies.
Then put the Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic, Chillies, Parsley, Basil, Vegetable Stock powder in a food processor along with as much oil as desired.
Pour the Chilli mixture into a small pan bring to a boil and slowly simmer for about 15 minutes. Stirring frequently to prevent burns. Adjust for salt
Let it cool, pour in a mason jar or a container with a lid and store in a fridge for about a week or more. In order for your Chilli sauce to last a long time make sure it is fully covered in oil

SENEGALESE SOUP

INGREDIENTS

4 Tbls coconut oil
500 gm Onions, chopped
1 Leek, sliced
1 Tbls Ginger, grated 
4 Apples
1 cup Celery root, cubed
1 Tbls Andrews JA Curry Blend
½ tsp Turmeric, ground 
½ tsp ground Black Pepper
2 green Cardamom pods ground
500 ml Vegetable stock
500 ml Coconut milk 
350 gm Crunchy Peanut Butter
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbls brown mustard seed
1 Red Cayenne sliced
80 gm Peanuts Roasted and chopped

Method

Saute Onion, Leek, and Ginger. Cook on medium for a few minutes until translucent.
Dice Apples and save a few pieces for garnish. 
Add Apples, Celery root, Curry powder and spices to the pot. Stir well and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add stock, Peanut Butter, Coconut milk, Salt and Pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender, around 20 minutes. 
Toast mustard seeds in a dry pan and set aside. 
Purée until smooth with a stick blender. Add water if the soup is too thick. Garnish with Mustard seeds, Diced Apple and Peanuts.

ANDREW’S SENEGALESE STYLE SQUIRE

INGREDIENTS

Squire
1-2 lemons
5 gm Salt 
5 gm Gnd Black pepper
2 tsp White peppercorns
2 tsp Black peppercorns
1-2 gm Nutmeg (ehuru)
2 Tbls Garlic cloves crushed
2 tsp Anise seeds
1 cm piece Ginger
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbls chicken stock powder 
1 cm Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup basil, parsley coarsely chopped
100 gm Onion

Method

Make three –four diagonal cuts in each side of the fish, all the way right through the bone. Season Squire with Salt, Pepper, and squeeze some Lemon over it. Set aside
Use a Spice Grinder, grind all the dry spices – Anise seeds, Nutmeg, White pepper and Black pepper. Add to a bowl.
Chop Parsley, Onion, Basil, Garlic, Ginger, Chicken stock powder and place in a food processor. Pulse adding oil/water as needed until the ingredients are finely pureed. Add to the bowl of dry spices. Add Paprika and more oil if need be. Mix thoroughly until all the spices come together
Pour the marinade over the Squire, and gently flip them back and forth until coated inside and out. Let it marinate in the fridge for up to 24hours
Preheat to high heat.
When you are ready to grill, wipe down the grill with oil, towel and them immediately lay a flat tray. Let them grill for about 1-2 minutes on each side
Reduce to medium high, then cover the grill if you have a gas grill
Baste with fish spice
Let the fish cook for a total of 4-5 minutes on each side, you may have to add a minute on two depending on the thickness of your fish until cooked – when fish is white and the juices must run clear.
Check for doneness by making sure the meat closest to the bone is fully cooked – slash with a knife to check.
Serve with my Senegalese Chilli Sauce and grilled Green Banana
Peel green Bananas
Slice in the middle then cut in halve. Season with salt and brush with spice mix
Grill on each side for about 3 minutes until fully cook through ,watch carefully because they burn easily.

SALATU NIEBE

INGREDIENTS

250 gm Black-eyed peas, soaked in water, covered for 1 hour
1 tsp Salt (divided use)
1 Tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1 Continental Cucumber, seeded and diced
1 Red Capsicum, seeded and diced
1 bunch Eshallots, chopped
½ bunch Continental parsley, roughly chopped
2 Limes, juiced
2 Scotch Bonnets, seeded and finely diced
1/8 tsp Gnd Black Pepper 
2/3 cup Olive oil
8 Iceberg Lettuce leaves, Cups

Method

In pan, gently boil Black-eyed-peas in 4 l water until tender, about 30 minutes. 
Season with 1/2 tsp Salt near the end of the cooking time. Strain and set aside. 
Mix the Tomato, Cucumber, Capsicum, Eshallots, Parsley, Lime juice, Scotch Bonnets, remaining 1/2 tsp Salt and Black pepper. 
Gradually pour in the Olive oil while whisking the mixture together. 
Gently fold in the Black-eyed-peas. 
Cover and allow to sit for 1 hour so that flavours can blend, serve in the lettuce cups.

MY VEGAN TWIST ON MAFE

INGREDIENTS

200 gm Corn kernels 
350 gm Sweet Potatoes, peeled and chunked
140 gm. Potato, chunked
300 gm Carrots, chunked
2 cups Cauliflower florets
1 cup Button mushrooms
2 cups diced Green Capsicum
3 cups Baby Spinach
450 gm Tomatoes chopped 
1/2 cup Peanut butter
180 gm Onion, diced
1 tbls. Ginger chopped
1 tbls. Garlic chopped
1 tbls. fresh Thyme 
1 tbls. Coconut oil 
1.25 L cups water 
1-2 tbls. Salt, adjust to taste
2 tsp. Ground Habanero powder 
1 Lemon, juiced
(garnishes, chopped Peanuts, fried Onions, Parsley, Coriander, sliced Chillies, flaked Coconut)

Method

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed large pan. Add the Onions, Garlic and Ginger and sauté until translucent.
Turn the heat to medium and add the Carrots, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes and Baby Spinach and sauté for 3-4 minutes. 
Add the rest of the vegetables and sauté for 5-7 minutes. Turn the heat up to high, add the water and the Thyme Once everything starts to bubble, turn the heat down to medium.
Add the Tomatoes, Peanut butter, Ground Habanero powder, and Salt. Let everything cook for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked, stirring occasionally. Adjust Salt and spice to taste.
Turn the heat off, stir in the Lemon juice, and let the stew rest for 10 minutes.
Serve over rice or bread and garnishes of choice.

SENEGALESE CHICKEN YASSA

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup Lemon juice
650 gm Onions, thinly sliced
3 gm Salt
3 gm Gnd Black pepper
½ Scotch Bonnet chopped
¼ cup Peanut oil
1 tbls Peanut oil
1 Chicken, cut in pieces
1 Scotch Bonnet pierced with a fork
1/2 cup Stuffed Olives
350 gm Carrot, thinly sliced
1 tbls Dijon mustard
½ cup water

Method

In a large bowl, prepare the marinade with the lemon juice, Onions, Salt, Pepper, Chopped Scotch Bonnet, and the 1/4 cup Peanut oil. 
Place the Chicken pieces in the marinade, making sure that they are all well covered, and allow them to marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Overnight is better
Preheat the oven. 
Remove the Chicken pieces and reserve the marinade, and place them in a shallow roasting pan. Roast Chicken until they are lightly browned on both sides.
Remove the Onions from the marinade. Cook them slowly in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a pan until tender and translucent. Add the remaining marinade and heat through. When the liquid is thoroughly heated, Roasted Chicken pieces, pierced Scotch Bonnet, Olives, Carrots, Mustard, and water. 
Stir to mix well, then bring the Yassa slowly to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the Chicken is cooked through. Serve hot over white Rice.