Local fishing has long been a mainstay in The Gambia but poaching by foreign trawlers has depleted the stocks. Peanuts provide half of all export earnings and food crops include rice, maize / corn as well as those mainstays of drought-prone countries - millet, sorghum and cassava / manioc.

“The Senegambia Restaurant in Basse makes memorable benachin which is often served up on festive occasions. You can leave out the meat and eat it as a vegetarian dish if you prefer.” Rosemary Daly, London, UK


pound / 225 g meat or white fish, cut into 1 inch / 2.5 cm pieces

Some or all of the following vegetables:

1 egg-plant / aubergine, diced

pound / 225 g white cabbage, chopped

1 cups / 225 g pumpkin, squash or turnip, diced

1 cups / 225 g zucchini / courgettes or marrow, sliced

4 okra, sliced

1 - 2 tablespoons peanut oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 - 2 cloves garlic, crushed

12 peppercorns, crushed

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup / 240 ml chicken stock

1 chili or 1 teaspoon chilli powder or a few drops of Tabsco sauce

1 cup / 225 g rice

2 cups / 470 ml water

juice of 1 lemon



Using a large pan, heat the oil and cook the onions and garlic together with the peppercorns for a few minutes until the onions are golden. Then add the meat or fish and the vegetables.

Now put in the tomato paste, salt, stock and chilli powder or Tabasco sauce.

Cook the meat or fish and vegetables until they are done. If using fish this will take about 10 - 20 minutes with the vegetables, but if you are using meat you will need to allow up to 2 hours, depending on what cut you are using. In this case, cook the meat without the vegetables until it is almost ready and then put the vegetables in to cook for the last 20 minutes or so.

When this is ready, remove the vegetables and meat or fish from the pan and keep them warm.

Let the sauce that remains in the pan cool a little and then add the rice and water.

Cover the pan, bring to the boil and cook the rice for 20 - 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary. When cooked, the rice should have absorbed all the water.

Turn the rice out onto a serving plate and garnish it with the hot vegetables and meat or fish. Squeeze the lemon juice over and serve the food right away.


Serves 4 - 6.


country : The Gambia

course : meat dish


source : The New Internationalist Food Book : Recipes from Africa, Asia and Latin Americafor Western kitchens with country information and food facts / Troth Wells