Go Africa Carnival – Fataya

Instagram Post 8/17/2019

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Last month’s Go Africa Carnival on West 116th St in Harlem showcased a panoply of West African food, but I was unfamiliar with this Senegalese fataya. These were set next to a hand written sign that identified the two available varieties, chicken (on the left) and fish, “in baked flour”, a charming way of describing these empanada-like pockets, a familiar street food in Senegal. The linguistic and culinary connection is clear: fatayer are stuffed half-moon shaped pies (usually fried) found throughout the Middle East. The sauce on the side was eye-opening.

The close up.

The long shot.

Bravo African Restaurant

Instagram Post 3/1/2019

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Some months ago, a group of us led by the redoubtable Dave Cook of eatingintranslation.com fame joined in a West African food crawl through the Bronx stopping at Bravo African Restaurant, 1473 Westchester Ave in Soundview, for these two Senegalese dishes.

[1] The first, Ceebu Yapp (you might see thiebou yapp), literally rice with meat, in this case grilled lamb, is a classic dish served here with an oniony gravy over a bed of broken rice, all the better to drink up the juices. Was it a coincidence that the three most colorful items on the platter, green bell pepper, yellow corn, and red scotch bonnet just happen to match the colors of the 🇸🇳 Senegalese flag?

[2] So many names for this hearty West African staple: Mafé (or maafe or maffe) is peanut (or peanut butter or groundnut) stew (or soup depending upon its viscosity) otherwise known as sauce d’arachide, tigadèguèna or domoda (depending upon your whereabouts). Its tomato base was underpinned with beef, carrots and potatoes and, to my palate, bore a striking resemblance to another West African favorite, palm nut soup, but peanutty for sure. The spice level can vary from one recipe to the next, but by any name it’s always a crowd pleaser!


Instagram Post 6/19/2018

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Pikine, a West African restaurant at 243 West 116th St in Manhattan is definitely worth a visit, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with Senegalese food. Portions are large (suitable for two, I’d say) but be forewarned that oftentimes many dishes are unavailable, sometimes because they’re served only on certain days of the week (typical for many African restaurants) but sometimes just because the kitchen reports that they’re out.

We ordered Senegal’s national dish, Thiebou Djeun – spellings vary widely but pronunciation is close to Cheh-boo Jen – and to call it rice and fish is an understatement even though the words translate as rice and fish. It’s made from “broken rice” (easily found at nearby African markets) and if you look closely you’ll see its short grains, but it begins its life as standard untruncated rice that breaks in the field or during processing or milling; the shards are sorted by size and are highly desirable since they cook faster and absorb flavors more readily than whole grains. The rice, combined with chopped onion and garlic, is cooked with tomato paste that lends its deep red color and rich flavor, plus okra, carrots, cabbage (your vegetables may vary) and perfectly seasoned fish.

Our second dish was Maffe (often spelled Mafé), lamb stew with vegetables in a tomato/peanut butter sauce, another Senegalese classic that’s not to be missed.