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8 Gambian fruits you probably haven't tasted before

My Magazine 2022/08
6 min
The excitement of the travel to a new country is trying out the local cuisine and discovering some unique exotic fruits. We prepared a list of must-try fruits found in The Gambia, which you probably haven't tasted before.

Kaba

Kaba is round in shape and has a hard yellow or orange peel with black seeds dressed in yellow flesh embedded inside like a ball. Its taste is similar to tamarind, and the flavour can be compared to mango. Its peel is green before it is ripe. The kaba season starts at the beginning of June and lasts till September.

It can be eaten without additives, but sugar, salt, chilly or Maggie can be added to make it tastier. Some pound or boil it to separate the juicy skin fruit from the seed. It is also possible to make a drink out of it by leaving the seeds to soak in the water.

It can be found being sold by street vendors, sold for D25 to D50 per big fruit and D10 to D15 per small one.

 

Cashew Apple

Many people know famous cashew nuts, but not many know about the much less popular part of the cashew tree, a fruit known as the cashew apple.

In The Gambia, mostly what you can buy on the market are cashew nuts, which are not nuts but tree seeds or the actual fruits. It can be broken from the olive green or brownish kidney-like shell representing the smaller part of the whole fruit, which also consists of the bigger part, known as the cashew apple. The yellow or red and pear-like part has a thin, waxy skin and spongy yet juicy, astringent flesh rich in taste. Fruit is known more as wild fruit and is not commonly sold on the markets in The Gambia, but you can pick it from the cashew trees, which are quite common here. Apart from delicious fresh fruit, cashew apple can be used for jam, juice, dried fruit or candied fruit.

 

Sedem

Sedem is a wild fruit growing on the trees from January to May. Many Gambians love Sedem. The fruit looks like a little ball with reddish-brown skin; underneath is a puffy core and a creamy colour. The seed is not edible; it is thrown away after munching its sweet edible part (with the skin). The sedem fruit has a sweet, sugary taste with a slight taste of sourness.

Sedem is widely imported from Guinea and Senegal. You can find it in Serekunda Market or in front of the local shops. Even some local homes sell it at their gates. Its price ranges from D5 (a plastic bag) to D200 (a big pot). Locals use the Sedem leaves as herbs for health remedies. 

 

Soursop

One of the healthiest fruits in the world also grows in The Gambia. It's aromatic and tastes like a juicy fruit gum made of pineapple, banana and papaya. The flavour is intense, tangy, and sweet in combination with sourness.

Soursop is a sizeable heart-shaped fruit with prickly thick green skin, delicious white creamy meat, and inedible black seeds. The fruit is green even when it's ripe. It only becomes a little lighter shade of green, so it is hardly visible among the leaves of the same colour. The tree is evergreen and the fruiting season in The Gambia is throughout the whole year with the help of watering; otherwise, it's abundant with fruits only in the rainy season. If you have climbing skills, you can get it for free from the local trees or buy it from D50 per piece, depending on the fruit size. They are sold at the small fruit stands on the roadsides and fruit and vegetable markets.

 

Ditakh

Ditakh or sweet deetar is a globular, dark green drupe with fibrous pulp and a single seed. It has a sweet and sour taste, just like tamarind. The pulp of the fruit is the edible part. By removing a hardened brown shell, you can access the delicious green flesh, which you can eat by melting it with your tongue and sucking it. Some of the Gambians prepare a special juice using this fruit. Removing the hard shell and soaking the green part in water will give you a refreshing and natural drink in no time.

The season of ditakh begins in early July and continues till October before it slowly dwindles in the market. The tree grows in the Gambian forests and is harvested by locals to sell at various markets. In The Gambia, it is also a highly imported fruit from the neighbouring country Senegal. The fruit is sold at the main markets and can be found on the streets or in front of compounds. You can buy a big pot for about D50 or one for D5 to D10.

 

Kooni or Jalangó

The fruit in The Gambia is known by the local name Kooni, or Jalang'o, a fruit of a rhun palm, also referred to as a jelly coconut. The fruit is green and smooth and looks similar to the small coconut with the difference that they grow in bigger bunches on a branch.

The fruits, however, are different from the world-known coconut, which is brown and with a hard shell when removed from the green case. When you open the kooni at the top, you can see three holes that hold the juicy and jelly water of the fruit, which is the only edible part of the kooni. The easiest way to eat it is to use the finger and suck the juice with jelly flesh out of the sockets, but you can also use a spoon. The taste is similar to a young coconut's water, only a bit milder. The only bad thing is that the edible part presents only a tiny percentage of the whole fruit.

This fruit is sold on the streets, markets, and schools from October to December. You can buy a whole branch for about D50 or D100.

 

Baobab

The baobab fruit is oval berry-like with a hard shell coated with greeny fur, and it hangs from the baobab tree on a long wooden stalk. The greeny fur turns brown when it is ripe for eating. The hair usually causes an itchy feeling when it touches your skin. The locals always scrap the coat of the baobab to reveal the black hardshell, which breaks upon hit. Under the shell hide the dry pulp chunks that hold the dark bean-like seeds intertwined with the fibres.

The fruit is used for making juice or desserts. Baobab juice, baobab cream, baobab ice, and more. The fruit is also used to relieve stomach aches and diarrhoea. The trunk is used as wood for cooking, making ropes and clothing.

You can buy it at local markets throughout the year, either in powder or pulp chunks with seeds extracted from the hard shell. It is sold per cup, pricing from D50 to D75 depending on the cup size, fruit freshness and your negotiation skills.

 

Mampatoo

Mampatoo is a wild fruit growing in the wild, and although it is not extensively appreciated, you might still be lucky to find it with some of the fruit sellers.

The fruit is approximately the size of a small plum and consists of a relatively large kernel surrounded by soft edible pulp. The texture is similar to one of the bananas. The brown peel hides yellowish flesh. The drupe does not offer an easily recognisable taste but provides a fresh snack. Occasionally fruit is used for cooking porridge after being pounded.

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