The Gambia, nestled on the West Coast of Africa, offers a diverse culinary scene. Its breakfast options reflect the country's rich cultural heritage and the various tribes that call it home. From traditional breads like Tapalapa and Senfurr to delicious porridges, Gambian breakfasts are a delightful way to start the day.
Tapalapa is a soft, dense baguette, while SenFurr is a lighter and fluffier yeast baguette. Tapalapa is a combination of 2 words in the local language, Wollof, where Tapa means "flat" and Lapa means "slim or thin". Senfurr is also comprised of 2 Wollof words - Sen meaning "your" and furr meaning "bakery".
Tapalapa and Senfurr are the two most popular breads used in Gambian breakfasts, snacks, and dinners. It's often enjoyed with butter, chocolate spread or a selection of sauces like bean paste, gronesoup ( smoked fish sauce with lemon, spice, onions, and chilli), bullet or fishball stew, or hearty steaks. The combination of the chewy bread and flavourful fillings makes for a satisfying meal.
The older generation prefers traditional breakfast options like Chereh, Mono, Lakh, Latcheri and Chura Gerteh primarily for health reasons and also because these are softer than bread.
Chereh is a millet and peanut porridge from the Serrer tribe. Served with yoghurt to add a tangy twist, this porridge is a comforting and satisfying start to the day.
Chura Gerteh is a mouthwatering peanut and rice pudding. The creamy-textured porridge perfectly balances sweetness and nutty flavours.
Another typical breakfast meal is a porridge called Mono in the local language. It tastes best when fresh, so ensure you get it early in the morning. Mono is made in some homes every morning, while others prefer to buy it from roadside vendors or corner shops. Purchasing it from someone else is a way of supporting each other.
And yet, another popular breakfast is Lakh, a porridge made with millet, peanut paste and yoghurt. This dish is by the Wollof and Fanafana tribes.
Finally, Latcheri, a dish from the Fula tribe, is made with coarse corn flour. This is steamed and eaten with milk or yoghurt.
However, the most famous breakfast among the local people is ˝Mburu ak butter˝ which means Bread and Butter or ˝Mburu ak Sauce˝ - Bread and Sauce.
In The Gambia, breakfast choices vary among the different tribes. Women and girls often take charge of preparing and serving these meals with love and care. Each tribe brings its own unique flavours and methods to the table.
Most Gambians in the urban areas are not fond of waking up early to make breakfast. They know that roadside stalls and cafes throughout the country offer bread with a choice of fillings as well as the more traditional breakfast options. However, in rural areas, residents are usually up at dawn and prefer to make their own conventional healthy breakfast.
Whether you're seeking a hearty start to the day or a lighter and more refreshing option, Gambian breakfasts have something to offer everyone. So, if you ever find yourself in The Gambia, take advantage of the opportunity to savour the diverse and mouthwatering breakfast choices it provides.
Would you like to experience a traditional breakfast? Spend a day with a Gambian family and learn how these dishes are prepared.