Cabbage, celery and pineapple salad (The Gambia)

The Gambia is a tiny country in West Africa, the smallest country in mainland Africa, and geographically quite peculiar. It is essentially just the delta area of the Gambia river, less than 50 km wide at its widest, and completely surrounded on the land side by the much larger Senegal. E.g. in the African map in Wikipedia you can hardly see Gambia. Still, the country is fairly well known by name, perhaps thanks to its football team. The Gambia is a former colony of Britain and only left the British Commonwealth in 2013. English is the official language, but most people are Muslims. Coconuts, cashews, Brazil nuts and peanut oil are major exports.

The Gambian cuisine is similar to other West African cuisines, the colonialists barely having left their mark. Fish is eaten a lot, obviously, considering the location of the country, and also oysters caught from the river Gambia. The staple starches are rice and cassava, but wheat and millet are also eaten. Other common ingredients include peanuts, eggplant, tomato, carrot, pumpkin, okra, cabbage, beans and black-eyed peas. Food is often spicy and may also be seasoned with herbs, Maggi cubes and lemon or lime. These foods are often combined into stews with many ingredients, sometimes cooked for hours. Baobab juice is a popular drink. You can get dried baobab from many health food stores and superfood shelves, I find it quite tasty. Wonjo juice is made from hibiscus flowers. Tapalapa is a bread described similar to baguettes but denser, sometimes served with jam, but usually with plenty of savory toppings.

This recipe, found in e.g. some cookbooks, is listed in many places as a “West African salad”, without listing a specific country. However, I found a very similar salad, with onions instead of tomatoes and green pepper described (without an actual recipe) as Gambian, and tomatoes are used a lot in Gambia, so I think this is a Gambian salad, or at least close enough. You could make it paleo by using coconut or almond yoghurt/milk – the aforementioned Gambian dish also contained coconut milk.

Cabbage, celery and pineapple salad

Gambian salad

0.3 lbs/150 g cabbage, shredded
2 oz/60 g celery, thinly sliced in the diagonal
1 oz/30 g green bell pepper, sliced in thin strips,
1 oz/30 g tomato, cut into thin wedges
2.5 oz/70 g pineapple, cubed
1/4 tsp salt (or none, see notes)

1/2 tsp mixed herbs (parsley, thyme, basil)
0.4 cup/1 dl soy yoghurt
1 tbsp soy milk

Mix all the vegetables together in a bowl. Add the soy milk and herbs and mix. Add as much soy yoghurt as is needed to hold the salad together. Let the flavours mingle in the fridge for a few hours before serving. Makes 3-4 portions.


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