Traditional Gambian dishes cooked in homes are mostly rice, the staple
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 (Domoda),
ladies 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.
Some of the best known authentic dishes are
'Domoda' (peanut butter sauce), 'supakanja' (okra stew), 'benachin'
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.
For 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
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
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 for about $0.04-$0.07 each. 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.