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Domoda – Gambia National Dish – Day 267/Dish 65

December 5, 2010

Hello hungry adventurers!

As you can already tell, this posting is a bit different than the usual MHT posting.  I am trying out the, “post by phone” feature for the first time for a main posting.   Please leave your feedback if you like, dislike this method.   I am, as always posting the text version of the article and recipe.  If this turns out to be a popular method, I will continue to post by phone and text.  Let me know your thoughts!


Our destination today is another African nation.  If the bulbous northwest portion of Africa were a head looking across the Atlantic at South America, then Gambia would be approximately where the nose is.  To get there from Gabon we simply sail north from the Gulf Of Guinea around the point, past Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and finally to the shores of Gambia.

Gambia was first colonized by the Portuguese in the mid fifteenth century.  Like many of its neighbors, Gambia was a lucrative port in the international slave trade.  At this time in history, the slave trade was controlled by several western European powers including France, England, Portugal and Holland.  Slaves were first brought to Europe to perform domestic tasks in wealthy European households.  As the West Indies and North America began to emerge as agricultural powerhouses, the trade soon moved west and continued throughout the eighteenth century.  Eventually the land near the mouth of the Gambia River was ceded to the English who maintained control in the country until independence was declared in 1965.

The English outlawed slavery in the British Empire in 1807 making them the first European power to do so.  As history shows, the awful trade in human chattel continued throughout the Atlantic basin for years afterward.  To this day there remains a lucrative slave trade in many parts of the world.  Although it is a more subversive and hidden practice today, it still affects upwards of 27 Million people globally. To read about it, follow this link.

Gambia is the smallest nation on the African continent.  In area it is slightly smaller than Jamaica.  The population is largely Muslim, English speaking and economically focused on agriculture.  The national dish of Gambia is called Domoda.  It is essentially a groundnut stew made with tomatoes, and peanuts along with some type of meat although it can be made as a vegetarian or vegan dish.

I have appreciated using the Congo cookbook as a reference for regional dishes from this part of Africa.  Their explanation of this dish is posted here.

“Domoda (or Domodah) is Gambia’s version of Sub-Saharan Africa’s ubiquitous Groundnut Stew. In its simplest versions, made without meat, it is basically a Peanut Sauce. It can be made with meat of some sort; usually beef or bushmeat. If made with chicken it is quite similar to Chicken in Peanut-Tomato Sauce.  Whatever form it takes, it is usually a peanut sauce, served over rice.”

This popular dish has spread throughout much of the region.  Peanuts are not native to Africa.  They first arrived sometime after 1560 when the Portuguese and Spanish landed on western Africa’s shores bringing the now popular legume with them.  Today, Peanuts are a major part of Gambia’s economy representing nearly 6.8% of GDP.

This dish and others from the region represent the crux of the thesis for this blog.  It is a popular local dish, created from BOTH local and imported ingredients, that provides not only staple nutrition including large amounts of protein, but also a dish that has become a part of the local culture through its popularity.   Variants of the dish can be found in nearly every sub-saharan African nation in and around the Congo and Gambian river basins.  In turn, Domoda and other dishes like it were brought to the Americas with the slave trade and form a part of the culture of the Caribbean and American culinary histories.  You can find variants of this and other West African dishes in the Americas, especially in areas where slavery was prevalent and where peanuts are a part of the local agriculture.  Evidence to this point can be found at this link which is one of many Americanized versions of a peanut stew that can be found with a quick Google search



Appearance:  4 out of 5 (beautiful fall colors)

Aroma: 5 out of 5

Flavor: 5 out of 5

Total: 14 out of 15


2 cups of peanut butter

1 large onion (chopped)

2-4 diced whole chili peppers (depending on your preference for heat)

2 liters water

2 whole lemons

2 cubes Maggi or Bouillon

4 medium bitter tomatoes (if available) or 4 tbsp tomato paste or 1 can diced tomatoes (1 of the three)

2lbs beef or chicken

1/2lb pumpkin or other squash/gourd

2 medium fresh tomatoes chopped

Salt and pepper to taste


Wash and cut meat into bite size pieces (chicken should be cut into larger pieces).

Lightly sear the meat in vegetable oil with the onions

In a cooking pan, boil the meat, onions and chopped fresh tomatoes in water for 10 minutes.

Add peanut butter and other ingredients, bring to boil stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat after 10 minutes and simmer for 45 minutes.

Serve with plain boiled rice.

I adapted this recipe to include elements of the Congo Cookbooks version of Domoda.  Here is the link to that recipe.

NOTE: If you are using chicken then make sure you sear the chicken in a little oil or fat before boiling. The dish is also referred to as ‘Durango’ in Mandinka and as ‘Mafe’ by the Wollofs of Senegal.

Main recipe source:

add’l sources:

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jihad Ackerson permalink
    December 5, 2010 4:23 pm

    This was so DELICIOUS….I am looking forward to having it for lunch on Monday!

  2. December 10, 2010 5:11 am

    Hi, I have been to your blog for the first time. Though I am a vegetarian, I really liked the write-ups. Very good insights into various cultures and the behind every dish. Thanks for posting. A foodie like me would really enjoy this. Cheers

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