In recent years, culinary ambassadors from the continent of Africa have really turned up the heat when it comes to reconnecting the world to African flavors and dishes that have had a global influence. One of these ambassadors includes chef Pierre Thiam who is set to release his second cookbook, “SENEGAL – Modern Recipes from the Source to the Bowl,” next month which will “transport you into the country’s rich, multifaceted cuisine.”
Currently living in New York, Thiam has never strayed too far away from his roots planted in the country’s capital Dakar. In his first book, “Yolele! Recipes From the Heart of Senegal,” Thiam celebrates traditional family meals made by passionate home cooks who use fresh, organic ingredients and local meats and seafood. The cookbook is the first about Senegalese cuisine to be published in English. “SENEGAL” is a follow-up tribute that is beautifully written and photographed with more than 100 recipes over 320 pages complemented with nostalgic stories and memories. If you are looking to really understand Senegalese cuisine, this is the book you need to add to your collection.
There are so many perceptions about African cuisines that simply come from not knowing much about them at all. Thiam truly breaks down the cuisine of Senegal introducing new ingredients as well as using common ones that you can pick up at your local grocery store. Lemons, limes, Scotch bonnet pepper, coconuts, mangoes, bananas, ginger, sweet potatoes, parsley, cilantro, and thyme are just a few of ingredients Senegalese recipes share with the rest of the world. He also highlights Senegalese superfoods such as moringa (a leafy green jam packed with lots of vitamins), tamarind (a natural anti-inflammatory), baobab (a fruit with six times the vitamin C of oranges), fonio (an ancient supergrain packed with vitamins) and hibiscus (a flower enjoyed as tea).
With a word of endorsement by “The Chew” host Carla Hall, “SENEGAL” is a true food enthusiast’s ticket to West Africa. Thiam doesn’t hold back on the goodness that one can create in the comfort of his/her own home. Which recipe should you begin with? Let’s see, you can take it slow with the Raw Collard Greens Salad before moving on to the Sweet Potato, Green Plantain and Scallion Latkes, Pan-Fried Sea Bass and Cameroonian Chicken with Raw Kani Sauce. Go deeper into the cuisine by trying the Thiebou Jean, a fish dish made with grouper and vegetables or the Lamb Shank Mafe, lamb slow simmered in a peanut sauce and topped with Rof Gremolata which is a parsley mixture typically used to stuff fish.
Savory as well as sweet recipes will have you cooking for days. Recipes quickly making the “to cook and bake list” include Thiam’s Banana Coconut Fritters, Millet Beignets, Chocolate Mango Pound Cake and Ginger-Hibiscus Poached Mangoes. Go a little sweeter by making all or one of the Senegalese popsicles as well as the Coconut-Lime-Palm Ice Cream.
This year has certainly been an exciting year for food lovers looking to journey outside of their comfort zones in an effort to taste the flavors of the world. Thiam is among the cookbook authors taking us on that journey, making it enjoyable, educational and most importantly delicious.
If visiting Senegal is not on your travel bucket list any time soon, the photography by Evan Sung does an amazing job of creating colorful and real-time images of everyday life as experienced by Senegalese people. Together with Thiam, Sung really captures the essence of the country with spotlights on Diallo, a Diola palm oil producer, women and men cooking and Valerie Ndiaye, a medical doctor who co-founded Esteval Juices. Not only will the book captivate your taste buds through the recipes, but the stories that Thiam shares about his beloved Senegal certainly piqued our curiosity to learn more.
“SENEGAL – Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source of the Bowl” is available on Amazon and is a book that is worth getting and will definitely be your go-to guide for Senegalese cuisine.
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