9. Senegal Food Focus: Tiga-d̩g̩

Senegal Food Focus!

Peanuts are a staple in Senegalese cuisine. They have also become my first love. Tiga-dÌ©gÌ©or peanut butter is one of the most wondrous byproducts of these locally harvested peanuts. And since one of my New Year’s resolutions was to learn to make tiga-dÌ©gÌ©, I would like to share with you what I’ve managed so far!

This is a recipe for making completely organic peanut butter, enjoy!

*Ingredients that yield a cup of peanut butter include: 2 cups of peanuts, a bowl of sand, a dÌÇb or some way of crushing peanuts, and å_- 1 cup of water.

  1. You are going to need some gÌ©rtÌ© (peanuts). Now, there are a few things we westerners need to be aware of about peanuts before we rush too far ahead. First, peanuts don’t grow on trees: I mean, I had never seen a peanut plant before coming here‰Û_so I won’t overestimate our general awareness. It’s amazing how far grocery stores have pushed us from understanding the nature of our food. So yea. It’s true; peanuts grow on these ground vines and when they are harvested, the little nut (though it’s a legume for reals‰Û_) that we eat is encased in the familiar rough, veiny, bulbous, shell. If you were to crack the casing at this point, what you would find wouldn’t resemble what we find at the grocery store. The inside flesh is a pink color and has a slightly bitter taste. This form of gÌ©rtÌ© is called gÌ©rtÌ© kembe. But for peanut butter, you need roasted peanuts known as gÌ©rtÌ© chaffe. There are two ways of doing this! One is by roasting the gÌ©rtÌ© still in its casing (which is the safer way as you will see later). This is a common evening snack sold on street corners. When you find freshly roasted peanuts and crack open the casing over a glass of attaya (really strong, sweet and minty green tea). The flesh is hot and of a translucent color resembling a tiny potato in texture and flavor. The other way is to roast the individual pieces directly which is commonly then put into little bags and sold on the street generally $.05 a piece‰Û_I live off of these! But coming back to step one: I started from gÌ©rtÌ© kembe(or unroasted fresh peanuts). 100CFA worth or about two cups will yield around a cup of tiga-dÌ©gÌ©.
  2. Next, you need to roast the gÌ©rtÌ© kembe. To do this, take your propane tank and place the bowl of sand over the flame. Mix in the shelled nuts and cover them with sand. Make sure (1) not to touch the bowl or sand cause da freaking tang!…it’s really hot and (2) not to let peanuts sit for any extended amount of time cause they cook quickly in this hot sand! As you turn the sand with your fancy hole-ridden sifter spoon, notice how the skin around the peanut goes from a rosy pink to a deep purple‰Û_and avoid the charred black stage if possible. You’ll notice that I didn’t yet master this specific technique and next time will try sand-roasting the cased peanuts! An additional note, this way of roasting the gÌ©rtÌ© is a common adornment on any of my village street corners: old women hunched over small iron bowls and furnaces, sifting gÌ©rtÌ©, hint promises of fresh peanuts for my walk back home ‰ÛÒ it’s the little things‰Û_
  3. Once the peanuts are this purpley color, transfer them into another (but empty) bowl. Once the chaffe has cooled, take the nuts between your fingers and rub of the now brittle skin, revealing the golden peanut we are familiar with.
  4. Now take your dÌÇb (deep wooden-carved bowl and pounder) and, pouring the peanuts in, begin slowly pounding. I’m not really sure what a good equivalent would be at home. I mean, I’ve used a food processor before but unless you have some extremely effective blades, it isn’t going to have the same consistency. Additionally, you aren’t going to build up those biceps like us dÌÇbers‰Û_
  5. Once you have pounded and crushed and mashed so that there are hardly any visible chips of the white peanut, the consistency should be that off cookie dough ‰ÛÒ really grainy cookie dough‰Û_If not, keep dÌÇbing!
  6. After you’ve reached the before mentioned consistency, gradually add water. But instead of the up-and-down motion of pounding, revert to rotating the wooden pounder so that it rubs the mush to the sides of the bowl. Over time, as the water mixes in, the color with lighten to a soft brown and the mashed peanuts will take the appearance of peanut butter. Continue adding water until you have the desired viscosity and flavor. Note: The flavor is extremely strong considering it’s basically a peanut concentrate so adding water will help soften the bang. I would also like to take a moment to appreciate the fact that I just used the word viscosity”.