Niger, not to be confused with the neighbouring Nigeria, is a large (almost twice as big as Texas) landlocked country in Central/Western Africa. With just 15 million inhabitants it is much more sparsely populated than Nigeria, which houses 170 million people. It is a very poor country and has the second poorest human development index in the world. A lot of the country consists of the Sahara desert (explaining the low population) and much of the rest is threatened by desertification. Low education and extremely low literacy also cause problems. After a tumultuous recent history, with many coups and military governments, a 2010 coup left Niger lead by a junta again, but the 2011 elections were judged free and fair.
The Nigerien cuisine has some French, Portuguese and British influences and obviously also from North, Central and West Africa. Nigerien meals usually start with a salad of seasonal vegetables. The main dish is starch, usually millet or rice but sometimes couscous, served with a sauce or stew, generally based on greens, other vegetables and legumes because meat (usually goat, mutton, fish or chicken, but also beef) is more expensive. Restaurants usually serve grilled meat, though. Food tends to be hot and spicy and may be seasoned with ginger, nutmeg, cumin, cinnamon, saffron, cloves and lemon juice. Often there’s a lot of peanut oil as well. Tea is a popular drink.
This is a very simple fruit salad recipe, not particularly exotic, but definitely tasty. My picky husband doesn’t usually like mango, because he finds properly ripe mango too sweet, but there’s so much lemon in it that it tones down the sweetness, so he was a big fan. You really need a properly ripe fresh mango, in my experience frozen mango usually isn’t sweet enough. This dish is supposed to be served from lettuce cups, but I wasn’t able to buy lettuce.
Salad de mangue
1 ripe mango, cubed
1/4 fresh pineapple, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup/0.6 dl fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup/1.25 dl apricot nectar or orange juice
strawberries, to garnish
Combine cubed fruit and the juices. Serve on lettuce cups or bowls, garnished with the strawberries. Makes 3-4 portions.