Cuisine Africana: Senegalese Cuisines
Today’s daydream takes us to Senegal… a land of alluring contrast. One, long finger of Senegal fades into the Atlantic ocean, the westernmost point of Africa. As you wander inland, past the subtropical streets paved with the catch of the day, still fresh from the ocean, you will see as many collard shirts and slacks as you do bright tunics and robes. Three quarters of the population lives in cities on the coast. Once past the bustle (where buses noisily bump past rickety carts), the roads slowly turn to dust and the Savannah takes over. Here, the people’s bright clothing stands out against the golden grasses, thatched roofs, and earthen walls. The flicker of fires in outdoor kitchens makes for a spark of natural color.
By Tope Dada
A favorite stewed chicken dish in Senegal, simmers with onion and lemon juice quite leisurely until the flavors unite to create a tender, falling-off-the-bone, mouthwatering delight.
- 4whole chicken legs
- 4smallonions, sliced thinly
- 2Tbsppeanut oil
- 6smallcarrots, peeled and sliced thinly
- 12olives with pimentos
- 1/2cupchicken broth– OR –
- The night before the meal, mix together the marinade (lemon juice, mustard, habenero, peanut oil, salt, and pepper) and pour into a gallon sized zip lock bag with the chicken. Refrigerate and let the flavors mingle at least 2 hours or preferably overnight, turning the bag once or twice.
- The next day, fry onions in peanut oil until softened and beginning to caramelize. Note: Senegalese will often cook their onions for several hours over extremely low heat. They don’t really take on color, but slowly release their sugars and make for unctuous flavor. I cooked mine for about 20 minutes and, while the recipe was still grand, if you have the time, you might try the slow road.
- Meanwhile place the chicken and habenero on a lined baking sheet and set under the broiler until browned and beginning to crackle (you could also pan fry it or, in the summer, feel free to grill it). This took 8-10 minutes for me, but it will depend on the distance from your pan to the broiler… keep an eye on it). When browned to your liking, set it aside and keep warm.
- Next, add in the carrots, olives, and broth and marinade juices to the onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook for a few minutes to start softening the carrots. Nestle the browned chicken into the onion bed and the habenero, if more heat is desired. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are tender.
- Keep simmering until the chicken starts to pull away from the bones for the most tender dish. Right before serving, sprinkle with parsley. Spoon each serving over a mound of rice, including a healthy dose of onion, broth, and salty nuggets of olive and sweet carrot.
For More Juicy Stories, Get your copy of GENESIS INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE, (Issue 9). Available with the vendors, and online on jumia.com.ng, konga.com. Available also internationally in the USA in all Barnes & Nobles Stores, Chapters booksellers in Canada and isubscribe.com in UK.