Tuesday, 10 April 2012

:: Around the World for Dinner ::

A Taste of Senegal
:: Megann’s Kitchen ::

:: savouring the flavours of Senegal ::

I have recently made some incredible new friends in what is the magnificent & ever-growing RAAF family of mine. After a few dinners together, it was my new female companion, Jo, who suggested that we continue a tradition of theirs of having a meal planned based on countries around the World. A chance to try international flavours & interesting cuisine? I was IN! What an imaginary way to taste all the seasonings of the Earth in your own home? We were at their house for yet another incredible meal & Jo brought out her globe. Mick had the honours of spinning with one hand over his eyes & the other ready to point to a country. For the first 2 goes he hit water, which is null & void in this game, then success. He landed on the African continent in the country of Senegal! We all did some quick google research, picked some dishes to make & set a date.

As a starter, I made a nibbles plate with a Senegalese Garlic Dipping Sauce with toasted pita bread. This is basically a roasted garlic mayonnaise. It was a little strong & a touch boring on its own, but I can imagine making some homemade roasted chat potatoes (see recipe below) dusted with paprika & seasoning, this would complement the garlic sauce beautifully.
For the main, I finalised my thoughts on one of the national dishes of Senegal, Poulet Yassa (Yassa Chicken), which is comparable to a basic chicken stew. It was such a simple meat dish that I used one of the “optional extras” that was provided & added some chopped carrot & celery as an extender from the chicken & for extra flavour.
I also made Salade Cote Cap Verte, which is similar to a chopped green salad with the addition of flavourful herbs & the (untraditional) beautiful red jewels of pomegranate. I was extremely impressed by this salad, & plan to make it again! It looked marvellous against a white presentation dish & had amazing aromas. It would be a beautiful & exciting addition to any summer BBQ or festive table.
For dessert, Jo made a delicious crunchy peanut ice-cream, as peanuts are extremely popular & grown readily in this region. It was a lovely way to finish a fantastic evening with friends.

:: Senegalese Garlic Dipping Sauce ::

2 bulbs roasted garlic, peeled
2 organic eggs
250 ml fresh lemon juice
½ tsp sugar
100 ml to 400 ml grapeseed oil
½ tsp sea salt
fresh cracked pepper

To roast the garlic, Pre-heat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Peel the garlic from its skins & place into a bowl. Coat the garlic with a drizzling of olive oil & place onto a baking tray then bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until golden. Leave to cool.
Put all of the above ingredients, except the oil, in a blender or food processor & process until smooth. Pour in the oil in a very slow stream & blend or process until thick & aerated.
Serve as a dip for raw vegetables or toasted bread pita bread.

Kitchen Notes
:: As mentioned in the intro, I thought that this mayonnaise-like sauce would be just amazing with baked potatoes for a great starter, tapas or side dish. Parboil some whole chat potatoes, skin on, in water for about 10-15 minutes or until just soft. Strain the water away then transfer the hot potatoes into a hot baking dish. Crush the potatoes with the back of a spoon then season with sea salt, pepper & a sprinkle of sweet paprika. Drizzle with olive or grapeseed oil & bake in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

:: Poulet Yassa ::

:: my attempt at Yassa Chicken from Senegal ::

1 kg chicken pieces
200 ml lemon juice
60 ml malt vinegar
1 generous tsp brown sugar
30 ml peanut oil
3 brown onions, sliced
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

30 ml peanut oil
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 fresh red chillies, seeds removed & chopped finely
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 – 3 bay leaves (depending on size)
450 ml chicken stock
sea salt & pepper to taste

:: luscious lemons ::
:: chopping the onions ::
:: marinating the chicken ::
:: adding the vinegar ::

Mix the lemon juice, garlic, sugar, vinegar, sliced onions and 30 ml of the oil. Place the chicken pieces in a dish and pour over the lemon mixture. Cover with cling wrap & place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Heat the other 30 ml of the oil in a large pan. Lift out the chicken with tongs & seal the chicken pieces for 4 to 5 minutes until they are golden brown.
Lift out the remainder of the leftover marinated onions with tongs & add to the chicken, cook for 3 minutes & then add the marinade liquid, thyme, chillies, turmeric, ginger, bay leaves, sea salt & pepper & half of the chicken stock. Stir once or twice to mix everything well.
Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked, adding more stock as the sauce evaporates so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
Serve over long grain rice.

:: this delicious meat just fell off the bone ::

Kitchen Variations
:: Poisson Yassa: Substitute 1 kilogram of firm fish fillets for the chicken. Marinating time only needs to be 30 minutes in this case. Grill the fish and sauté the onions. Then simmer the marinade without the fish for 10-15 minutes. Finally, add the marinated grilled fish and simmer for 10 minutes more.
:: Sometimes vegetables are added to the pot to stretch the meat & add more flavour. Add 2-3 chopped carrots, 1 finely diced celery stick or a handful of green olives when you bring the marinade to simmer.
:: I cooked my chicken for an hour in order for the sauce to develop to a thicker consistency. Unfortunately this caused it all fall off the bone, but it was still juicy & tender. Be careful not to be too heavy handed first off with the stock as I did, & add it gradually!

:: Salade Cote Cap Verte::

:: salade cote cap verte with pomegranate ::

250 ml English cucumber, diced
1 small iceberg lettuce, sliced
4 large tomatoes, diced
1 green chilli, finely chopped
150 ml fresh mint, chopped
250 ml Italian parsley, chopped
200 ml chopped fresh coriander leaves
½ red onion, finely sliced
1 large, un-waxed lemon, grated zest and juice
150 ml pomegranate seeds (optional and not traditional)
5 – 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the above ingredients well by tossing with your fingertips. Check and correct seasoning then refrigerate for 1 hour.
Present in a salad bowl & scatter pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with a little extra chopped parsley.

:: a great salad for any occasion ::

Kitchen Notes
:: I have seen Jamie Oliver simply cut a pomegranate in half, place the fruit in his hand with the seeded side peeking through his open fingers. He forcefully taps it with the back of a kitchen knife & the seeds fall through his fingers & into the dish. Now, I admit that this is a messy way to vacate the seeds from the fruit, but effective!

:: Side Bread ::

:: crunchy bread for the table ::

Tear 1 large pita bread into pieces and toast under the grill.

:: Senegalese Peanut Ice-Cream ::

500g container of good quality vanilla ice-cream, softened
¾ cup of salt reduced crunchy peanut butter, warmed

Place the softened vanilla ice-cream in a large bowl & mix through the peanut butter to make ribbon like swirls. Add a little or as much peanut butter for flavouring as you like, it is up to your own taste really! Scoop back into the original ice-cream container & freeze until required!

Kitchen Notes
:: I would imagine that a silky smooth chocolate sauce would be amazing drizzled over the peanut ice-cream, reminiscent of a Reeces peanut butter cup! You could also try a salted caramel. Serve with freshly roasted chopped peanuts on top, mmmmmmm….

:: I had great fun finding bright decorations for the table as well! ::

:: Some great Senegalese Dinner info at- http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Cookbook/Senegal.html
:: I also stumbled on another great blog with a Senegalese dinner where I go a few great ideas & recipes- http://www.justfoodnow.com/2010/01/13/african-spirit-food-of-senegal/

We had such a fantastic evening of new flavours that we decided to do it again! Spinning the globe and next stop on our World tour is..... Portugal! For more dinner pics, follow on to my Facebook page. Thank you ever so much for joining us.


  1. Looks exotic and delicious, especially the salad. Look forward to you next 'world meal'.

    1. Always appreciating & loving the support.... Mum! Be sure to log me out from your iPad next time. I will keep you up to date with the World Dinners for sure! It is so much fun & a great way to sample World cuisine without taking a plane trip. XXX.


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