Cookbook:Mbahal (Gambian Fish and Okra)

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Mbahal (Gambian Fish and Okra)
CategoryGambian recipes

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Mbahal is a traditional Gambian dish that showcases the rich flavors of smoked fish, dried okra, and palm oil. It is a popular delicacy in Gambia, particularly among the Mandinka ethnic group. Mbahal is a hearty and aromatic stew that is enjoyed with rice or couscous, offering a unique and flavorful dining experience.


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  1. If the smoked fish still has bones, carefully debone it and flake the flesh into small pieces. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot or saucepan, heat the palm oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the chopped onions and minced garlic. Sauté until they become soft and translucent.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, diced bell peppers, and finely chopped Scotch bonnet peppers to the pot. Stir well to combine. Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.
  5. Add the dried, ground okra to the pot, stirring continuously to prevent lumps from forming.
  6. Stir in the tomato paste, ground ginger, ground coriander, and ground cayenne pepper (if using). Mix well to combine all the ingredients.
  7. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 15–20 minutes, or until the okra is cooked and the flavors have melded together.
  8. Add the flaked smoked fish to the pot and gently stir it into the stew. Be careful not to break up the fish too much.
  9. Taste the mbahal and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper according to your preference.
  10. Serve hot with a side of steamed rice or couscous.