The Baker’s Passport – Senegal

by Jeanne

            Durka

The southern area of Senegal , known to many for it’s stunning beaches usually speckled with sun bathers from France and for its primary crop rice which is grown in this region called Casamance.  African desserts in countries south of the Sahara Desert are not common.  What is found are mixes of cut fruit  such as mango, papaya, bananas and pineapple or simply just fresh fruit, either way this "course" is called "after chop."

Some of these central dishes to this part of Africa are Tiébou Dienn  {pronounced: cheb-oo jenn}(rice and fish) and chicken au yassa (chicken with lemon, pimento and onions) and maffe (chicken or mutton in peanut sauce).   Drinks include home-roasted coffee with pimento and and mint tea, with the first tea steeped along with sugar and is very bitter.  This first pour is thought to be bad for a woman’s health so they do not partake; the second time around water is added to the same leaves and boiled again.  Unlike their Northern neighbors in Morocco who serve only three services of tea–the third being considered the perfect pour. The Senegalese just keep serving it up with more sugar as the enjoy it sweet.

Marcus Samelusson, the Ethiopian-born Swedish chef at Aquavit, has infused his passion for African cuisine into his recent cookbook, Soul of a New Cuisine.  One of the peoples of Senegal, the Fulani  people are known for their love milk. Whether this recipe originates there are more likely from the inspiration that Chef Samelusson found while traveling through the country. Here, in the following recipe he uses rice to create a very luxurious pudding; the creamy flavor is clean and bright from the lime zest, vanilla and small pieces of fresh mango.

Soulofanew_2 Lime-Scented Poppy-Seed Rice Pudding with Mango
From Soul of a New Cuisine by Marcus Samuelson

2 1/2 quarts whole milk

2 cups short-grain rice (14 ounces)

One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

Finely grated zest of 1 lime

6 ripe mangoes—peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, combine the milk with the rice, coconut milk, vanilla bean and seeds and the poppy seeds and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat, stirring. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until the rice is tender, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Stir the sugar, heavy cream and lime zest into the rice and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice pudding is sweet and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then cover tightly and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. Spoon the rice pudding into small bowls and top with the mango.

MAKE AHEAD The rice pudding can be refrigerated overnight. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Serves 12

photo: J.C. Durka

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