It’s Easter in Senegal. Every year on Good Friday, Senegalese Catholics make a traditional treat called ngalakh to enjoy over the Easter weekend. Ngalakh is a porridge made of millet, peanut paste, baobab fruit, sugar, and vanilla. After mass on Good Friday, Catholics break their fast with ngalakh and then share the treat with family, friends, and neighbors. This tradition of sharing food during religious holidays is an important part of Senegal’s culture of peace and unity.
Known for their hospitality, or teranga, Senegalese people of all faiths enjoy celebrating holy days together. Although Senegal has a majority Muslim population with a small Christian (mostly Catholic) minority, its government is officially secular. Not only is Easter observed in Senegal, Easter Monday is a public holiday. Many Christians hold Easter parties with feasting and music and invite their Muslim neighbors and friends. Similarly, during the festival of Tabaski, or Eid al-Adha, Muslims share roasted lamb with Christians.
In CREATE!’s partner communities, Easter in Senegal is a time to celebrate with friends and family. Some cooperative members prepare ngalakh to enjoy together with neighbors. This traditional ngalakh recipe includes substitutions for difficult-to-find ingredients. We have also included a recipe that puts a modern twist on ngalakh – baobab and peanut butter popsicles!
In Senegalese Wolof, people say of ngalakh, “Defal ndank si ngalakh bi bala moulay yobou ardo,” which means “eat the ngalakh gently, otherwise the ngalakh will eat you” – a warning that millet expands in your stomach and is very filling!
Easter Porridge (ngalakh)
- 2 cups karaw (millet couscous) or wheat couscous
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 cups of bouye (baobab fruit) to make juice (see directions)
- 1 cup peanut butter (smooth, natural, unsweetened)
- 2 cups of sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon orange-flower water
- 1 pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon
- 1 handful raisins
- Prepare the baobab fruit juice: Place the baobab fruit in a clean glass bowl with several cups of warm water. Leave to soak for at least a few hours. Once the fruit is completely soaked, the fruit pulp should be easy to separate from the seeds. Stir it vigorously until the water becomes an opaque tan liquid. Strain this liquid through cheesecloth and set aside. If baobab fruit is not available, substitute fresh or canned tamarind juice, or any other tropical fruit juice.
- Steam or cook couscous according to directions. Stir in butter. Cool in the refrigerator.
- Make the sauce by mixing equal parts fruit juice and peanut butter – about 1 to 2 cups of each. Add sugar, vanilla, nutmeg (or cinnamon) and orange water. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To serve, mix the couscous, sauce, and raisins. Sprinkle with sugar.
Makes 8 popsicles
- 1 cup coarse millet couscous
- 1 cup baobab fruit drink (see below)
- 1 cup smooth unsweetened peanut butter or cashew butter
- ½ cup honey
- Wash the millet several times in a bowl until the water runs clear. Drain well. Place the millet in the top of a steamer basket lined with cheesecloth. Set over salted boiling water, cover, and steam for about 15 minutes or until tender and cooked through. Let cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the baobab drink with the peanut butter and mix well. Add the cooled millet and honey and mix until smooth. Refrigerate until cold.
- Stir, then divide the mixture among eight popsicle molds and insert the sticks. Freeze until hard and serve cold.
To make baobab drink:
- 2 ½ cups baobab fruit pulp
- 5 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Stir well until the water becomes white and thick. Strain the juice until a pitcher through a fine-mesh sieve lined with damp cheesecloth. Serve chilled.
Recipe from: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl, Pierre Thiam
Source for baobab photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Baobab_-_fruit_(8750413322).jpg