During this period of Coronavirus lockdown, many of us have focused some of our new-found time on home cooking and baking.
The statistics show increasing amounts of us are preparing more meals from scratch instead of purchasing pre-prepared meals plus we have also changed our purchasing habits to shop less regularly but for a larger shop to last a week or so.
I have to admit that I am one of the many that has turned to dabbling in home baking, although I have avoided the temptation to cultivate Sourdough starters and very much baked within my skill boundaries, sticking to an 'ingredients all in one bowl, mix, leave overnight and bake the next morning' approach to producing a ‘no knead’ bread.
This newly discovered passion for home cooking led me to think about my favourite dishes from around the world enjoyed in sandy flip flops, accompanied by warm evening breezes and a cool glass of wine.
My mind drifted to time spent in The Gambia, where Tapalapa is the most popular bread. Researching the recipe quickly led me to rule it out as a project with its mix of millet, wheat, corn and cowpea flour certainly putting it out of reach of my cupboard supplies and skills.
Glancing at an unloved jar of peanut butter reminded me of a great peanut-based dish that anyone who has visited The Gambia must have enjoyed, Domada.
On a trip to Kombo Beach Hotel we had a great lunch of a ‘sharing platter’ at the Barracuda Beach Bar, enjoying the cooling breezes and unrestricted views up and down Kotu beach. My favourite element of the platter was the Chicken Domada.
Domada, an adaptable peanut-based stewing sauce, is a national dish of The Gambia and a firm favourite for tourists who choose to holiday in the restorative winter sun. The peanut or groundnut is not an indigenous species to The Gambia but was introduced in the 16th century by Portuguese traders from the Americas. It is noted that the earliest cultivations of this crop were in the Senegambia area, and from these humble beginnings the peanut (now a major crop within the country) is the driving flavour of this national food institution.
The stewing sauce is based on a combination of peanuts, onions, tomato with a spicy kick, usually served with rice. It has made its way into the top league of dishes as it is easily made, can be vegetarian with sweet potatoes, squash, eggplant, okra or yams or it can include chicken, beef or lamb. It also lends itself well to a little lockdown cupboard liberation as it uses base ingredients that can be found at the back of most larders.
Following a little research and some help from my colleagues, I was kindly sent the recipe below, by Farma Njie who is the owner and leading light behind our ground handler, Discovery Tours; with over 30 years’ experience in travel, tourism & hospitality in The Gambia, Farma is certainly very qualified to share one her favourite recipes.
I found this dish easy to make and and it's extremely tasty - feel free to replace the hot sauce for chilli flakes and experiment with different meats and vegetables.
Enjoy a taste of The Gambia and we look forward to welcoming you to its warm shores soon.
- 4 whole chicken breasts OR chicken drumsticks OR full chicken cut up into desired sizes (you may also use beef or lamb if preferred)
- 6 – 8 heaped tablespoons of smooth, unsweetened peanut butter
- Large plum tomato
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- Medium onion
- Habanero or other hot pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
- Desired vegetables; carrots, sweet potatoes, your choice...
- Cut chicken/meat into desired pieces. Set aside.
- Wash and blend plum tomato, onion and pepper.
- Bring 1.5 litres of water in a cooking pot to a boil and add the blended items. Cook on medium heat for about 20 mins, stirring occasionally.
- Add the chicken/meat and cook for an additional 15 mins.
- Blend the peanut water with 1-2 cups of lukewarm water to ensure it easily dissolves. Add to the rest of the ingredients in the pot. Bring to a boil and then cook on medium heat for 15 mins. Add salt to taste. Add desired vegetables; carrots, bitter tomatoes etc and remove from pot when cooked to the desired consistency.
- Add a hint of lemon juice and simmer on low heat for an additional 15 mins until the sauce starts to thicken and peanut oil starts to surface. Occasionally stir gently.
Check the texture of the meat (you may remove the chicken from the pot and set aside if it is fully cooked.) This way, you can perfect the sauce without overcooking the meat. For other meats that need more cooking time, you may need to check cooking times and add more hot water to the sauce if required for a more tender texture.
If the consistency appears too thick, add some hot water and simmer until the required creamy texture is achieved.