Ida’s Home Cooking Yabouy is the best cooking class in The Gambia. You will learn how to cook in her home and experience an authentic Gambian meal. Ida Cham Njai has spent the last 20 years working in the tourism industry. Since 2008, she began her cultural cooking experience at her home in the neighborhood of Brufut (about 30 minutes from Banjul). Her instruction and cooking comes deep from her heart, with her motto being “Preserving my culture to promote sustainable Tourism”.
The day starts at 8:45am where you are picked up from your hotel/accommodation by her son.
Then you are brought to her beautiful home for a tour, and have the choice to pick your favorite Gambian outfit to dress up in (for females, males and children).
Tanji Fish Market
Once we were properly dressed, we went to the Tanji Fish Market at the Beach for ingredients. “Serer tribe” are a West African Ethno-Religious group, the third largest ethnic population in Senegal which make up 15% of the population in Senegal (1.8 million people). They dominate the market space in Tanji Fish Market in The Gambia (33,000 people) and a very small population is also found in Southern Mauritania.
The dish we cooked is called “Benachin” which translates to:
One = ‘Bena’
Pot = ‘Chin’
Basically everything gets cooked in one pot although in various stages in a span of 1.5 hours. It takes patience and a whole lot of love to make this dish, which there is no shortage of at Ida’s home!
Cooking Class in The Gambia
We begin the cooking process in her yard over a large pot over charcoal. We start by grounding the red onions, tomatoes, garlic, peppercorn from the Mortar and Pestle + a little conch (or dried Anchovies). Then add it into the pot as a base with oil to start the cooking process.
Then we add in the vegetables: Eggplants (as they call it Aubergine), Bitter Melon, Green Pepper, Cabbage, Cassava (root like taro/potato) with tomato paste for 30-45 minutes.
Once the vegetables are cooked, we take them out, then add the fish (Barracuda & Swordfish or whatever the fish of the day is) + garlic, green onions for 10 minutes.
At the end, with all the flavor infused in the pot, we add the rice (which we had previously steamed to an almost cooked texture) with sweet peppers and dried red chili peppers.
We requested extra spicy!
Once the meal is ready, we ate from one large plate together while exchanging cultural ideas. Traditionally it is custom to use hands to eat, you have the option of using a fork if you so desire.
Then we concluded our meal with local Gambian Tea, Mborr Mborr.
$50 per person includes the 5 hour experience (9-2pm):
- Roundtrip transportation
- Dress up in traditional Gambian Outfit
- Market shopping at Tanji Fish Market on the Beach
- Cooking instruction by Ida
- Gambian Cultural Exchange
- The Authentic Meal itself
- Local Tea
To schedule a Home Cooking class with Ida:
* Email her at Chaamidaa@gmail.com
* Facebook Message her: https://www.facebook.com/GambianHomeCooking
Bed & Breakfast at Ida’s
Ida also offers Homestays for up to 6 people (3 bedrooms) with traditional Gambian Breakfast included at $50/night.