Everything you want to know about food and drinks in gambia
Gambia is full of delicacies you’ll want to taste. I’ve become infatuated with the Gambian cuicinse and really miss the domoda (rice with peanut sauce) and pancakes (like Dutch Doughnuts, but tastier) everyday still. They eat a lot of rice there, especially because the population got their rice for free from their last president,and lots of peanuts, fish and chicken. Vegetables are mainly processed in dishes and you can buy fruit everything alongside the road, but you won’t find it a lot on the menu in most restaurants. They also eat a lot of sweets, but not like cookies or candy like we know it. The sweet cravings are set here by natural sweetness like wonjo and baoboab. Everything more you need to know about food and drinks in Gambia you’ll read in this blog. These eight dishes, snacks and drinks are a thing you’ll for sure want to try during your vacation in Gambia. Enjoy!
8 x local dishes you’ll want to try in gambia
Yassa: this is the signature dish of the Wolof tribe. It’s a stew that’s eaten a lot in Gambia and I’ve got to say, it really is delicious. I personally like the Yassa best with fish, this is being prepared with lots of garlic, mustard, several herbs and onion. An ingredient that’s being used a lot in the Gambian cuisine is Djumbo, like broth blocks as we know it, but with different seasoning. Yassa comes with rice on the side.
Domoda: My favourite dish from Gambia is without a doubt Domoda from the Madinka tribe. A rice dish with peanuts as the basic ingredient, tomatoes, chicken or beef. Or rice with peanut sauce as you may, but way tastier than we know it ;-). Honestly, I’ve eaten it every day and I can’t wait to order it the next time!
Benachin: Besides Yassa and Domoda this is a very popular dish as well in Gambia and it’s also known as the one pot dish. Because this dish is mainly made in one pan. First the fish is fried in the pan and removed once it’s done, next come the onions, tomatoes and tomato puree that are panfried. They add water to it, then all the vegetables and seasoning. When it has cooked for some time, everything is taken out off the pan again and lastly they cook the rice in the remaining fluids. Believe me, this is incredibly tasty!
Baobab: The baobab, also known as the Monkey bread tree is a huge tree of about 20 meters high that can grow till approximately 2.000 years old. It not only plays a large part in lots of African myths and legends, it’s also edible. Well, that is the leaves and fruits of course. The fruits are very nutritious and very, very sweet. You can eat them right out of the hand, but also as baobab juice, baobac ice cream and other sweets. Children love this sweet snack.
Wonjo: They make a drank called wonjo from the hibiscus plant. It somewhat seems like cranberry juice and they drink it both hot and cold. We got this thirsty drink when we arrived at night and it was a sweet and tasty welcome.
Pancakes: When you order coffee, that contain a fair amount of sugar cubes by the way, you’ll get pancakes. And no, those are not the pancakes that we know. They’re deep fried, crispy balls with a fluffy inside that you’ll can’t get enough of. Like a Dutch Doughnut! Made out of milk, wheat flour, coconut powder and strawberry powder that gives it a hint of strawberry taste. They’re even more delicious with honey or mango puree, to really give into that sugar rush. Ask the locals if you can taste one, these are (probably) more fresh, crispier and tastier than the ones in your hotel.
Palm wine: This is an alcoholic beverage that’s made in a very special way. Because it’s the juice of different kinds of palm trees that they caught in bottles. Every day men climb into these trees on their selfmade attributes to secure these bottles or to take them down when they’re filled. Pay attentnion to it when you’re driving past some palm trees, undoubtedly you’ll see some bottles hanging or see someone climbing in the palm tree. The longer the palm juice has to fermentate the higher the alcohol percentage and the stronger the taste. After a mere two hours you already have a delicious wine with an alcohol percentage of 4%.
Fresh fish: Eating fresh fish definitely is a thing in Gambia, because here it’s fresher than fresh and it’s caught barehanded by the strong Gambian. You can order fresh fish everywhere. Especially the lady fish and barracuda are recommended.
Have dinner at a local: Not only do they love it, but dinner is always cooked so it’s ‘safe’ almost all of the time. Of course pay attention to the hygiene of the location and of the people you’re planning on eating with. And make sure to always bring your desinfecting hand gel with you. Lots of people get to deal with diarrhea because they tough their lips with their dirty hands, not because of the food. So keep smearing! Tip: if you come across a family where they all eat with their hands, make sure to eat with your right hand. Often they’ll offer you some cutlery as a foreigner, but of course participate with the locals is much more fun.
Edible souvenirs: If you want to buy some food or drinks in Gambia to perhaps take home, ask your guide what’s the best place to do this. As it’s very important to support the local people, definitely don’t go to the larger retailers. Shop local!
Have fun if you’re travelling to Gambia for a holiday anytime soon and enjoy the delicious food and drinks and the local dishes.
gambia TRAVEL TIPS
This is how you get there: Tui and Corendon fly every other day directly from Amsterdam, or with a short stop in Senegal, to Gambia. Did you know that the flight takes just about 6 hours and when it’s winter in our country, it’s summer over there? This really makes it the perfect destination for a sunny winter!
More convenient lists for Gambia? Have a look at our other lists:
- Check out our ultimate Gambia Travel Guide
- 28 x good to know about Gambia
- 7 x nice beah hotels in Gambia to relax in
- 16 x fun to do in Gambia besides relaxing on the beach