Megan Fettig - Co-Director of Adult Programs
As a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, I grew quite fond of mealtime. Each afternoon and evening, my host family and I would gather around a large silver bowl placed upon a plastic mat. Squatting in the shade of the wide green arms of a mango tree, we scooped delicious fistfuls of savory sauces and white rice into our hungry mouths. Meals were completely satisfying. In my reflections, I realize that I was being nourished not only by the food, but also by the company I kept. Meals were a communal pause in our day, often followed by napping, drinking sweet mint tea, and braiding hair.
Upon returning to the States, I processed my experience in Senegal by attending West African cultural events, printing myriads of black and white photographs, and cooking Senegalese food for friends. One of my favorite dishes to make was mafé gerte, or Senegalese Peanut Sauce. Simple yet scrumptious, this dish has served as one of the bridges between my Colorado mountain life and the years I resided in a round, earthen hut, gathering each day for the ageless ritual of sharing a meal.
- Onion (1 large white)
- Garlic (1-2 cloves)
- Sweet potato (1 medium sized)
- Carrots (2 medium sized)
- Potato (1-2 medium sized)
- Cabbage (approx 3 cups)
- Habanero pepper
- Oil of your choice (2-3 tsps)
- Peanut Butter (½ cup to 1 cup depending on preference for thickness)
- Tomato Paste (2 tsps – helps cut the sweetness of the peanut butter)
- Water or broth (a bullion cube in water works well)
- Black Pepper (Lots of it! A few tsps)
- Cayenne (A pinch)
This dish is traditionally made with goat meat, which can be added with the onions if you prefer meat in your sauce.
- Cook rice while preparing sauce.
- Sauté onion in oil on medium heat until golden.
- Add vegetables including garlic, sweet potato, potato, and cabbage and sauté for about 5 minutes.
- Add 4-8 cups of water or broth (depending on how thick you like your sauce.)
- Once water is boiling, add peanut butter, tomato paste and spices.
- Turn to a low simmer and cook until sauce is reduced and vegetables are cooked (10-20 minutes).
- Serve over rice and enjoy!
Make sure you remove the habanero pepper so someone doesn’t get a hot surprise in their mouth. In the village, the pepper is passed around and dabbed on each person’s portion (it’s that hot!)
Ps. Do you have a favorite recipe from your travels that you’d like to share? Share it with [email protected]