Thursday 26 November 2009
Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music... Ad Infinitum
One of my goals when I cook is to try to be as inclusive as possible in my approach to the art of sauces and stews, specifically when it comes to international cuisine. This is not always successful but sometimes the attempt is worth more than the result. My Yassa dish was a typical example.
For some time a brochure from The Tourism and Travel Association of The Gambia lay dormant in my recipes' folder. I kept paging through it but never mustered the courage to knock up one of the succulent dishes recommended by the publication. Until one day, when both my children asked me if I could cook some cod. Without wasting any more time I set out to prepare a dish that would resemble one of the Gambian recipes I had seen in the pamphlet.
There are many ethnic groups living in The Gambia with some of them originating from surrounding countries like Guinea Bissau, Senegal and Mali. So, its cuisine is the result of the influence of these tribes.
Yassa is food of the Jola people who happen to be the fourth largest community in The Gambia. This dish can be made using chicken or fish, but attention, if using the latter, bear in mind that a fish like cod falls apart when you pan-fry it as I discovered to my chagrin. Still, I pulled it off, but my children found the resulting dish a bit too hot, as in spicy hot.
1 whole chicken or 4 fish (jorto or sompat)
salt and pepper to season
1 kg onions
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp mustard (I suggest English mustard)
1 tsp chilli sauce
1 tsp black pepper
6 tbsp vegetable oil
50ml lemon or lime juice
300ml water (if using chicken)
100ml water (if using fish)
1 stock cube
Boiled white rice to serve
1- Clean and trim the chicken or fish, and cut the chicken into quarters. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside to rest.
2- Slice or chop the onions, crush the garlic, and mix both with the mustard, chle sauce and black pepper.
3- Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and fry the chicken or fish just enough to seal in the flavour. Drain, remove from the pan and set aside.
4- In the remaining oil fry the onion mixture for a few minutes then add the lemon or lime juice, water and stock cube. Stir well, return the chicken or fish, reduce the heat to low, cover, and leave to simmer for 1½hours for chicken, or half an hour for fish, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Of course, it goes without saying that the music to go with this spicy dish must have the same hot ingredients. I confess that when I was cooking Yassa the melodies playing in the background were very different from the ones I'm uploading now but since Prince, or the Artist Formerly Known As (insert current appellation here), decided long time ago that his music was above everything and everyone else, I was unable to find a good clip of Musicology - one of my favourite albums and songs. And as for Nuyorican Soul, forget it, 'embedding is disabled by request' is the caption that greets me everytime I try to upload a video on my blog. That's why my first offering tonight is a down-to-earth US artist born to Indian parents and educated both in India and France. Rupa Marya and her polyglot band, The April Fishes, combine Latin grooves, the traditional French chanson, Gypsy beats and Indian ragas to deliver a pungent musical banquet. Enjoy.
Rupa is a hard act to follow, but that's not a problem for Dobet Gnahoré with her explosive and outgoing stage persona. This Ivorian singer, dancer and percussionist has inherited her rich father's tradition, a musician in his own right who performs with the Compagnie Ki Yi Mbock d’Abidjan. Cracking tune, this one is.
And to wrap this post up tonight here's Manu Chao with a classic from his piquant discography. And I hope this time youtube doesn't remove this clip. They've already done it twice. Enjoy.
Photo taken from The Thrifty Gourmet.
Next Post: 'Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music', to be published on Sunday 29th November at 10am (GMT)