As Senegal begins to enter the hottest part of the year, cooperative members in CREATE! partner communities continue to work diligently in their gardens. In March, women are harvesting many different types of vegetables, including cool weather crops such as lettuce, carrots, and mint. They are also setting out new vegetable seedlings and sowing seeds for warmer weather crops such as tomatoes, okra, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes.
Once cooperative members harvest their vegetables, they either sell their crops or cook them at home. Women are very happy that they can now grow their own food to cook their favorite meals. For this reason, CREATE! field technicians teach women how to grow vegetables that actually use at home and don’t try to introduce unfamiliar crops. Mane Kebe of Fass Koffe expresses a common view of CREATE!’s agricultural training programs: “Now that I can produce my own vegetables rather than buying them from the market, our family has secure access to food.”
Soupoukandia, a type of okra and seafood stew, is a traditional Senegalese meal, more commonly eaten in the Southern part of the country. Although okra is a must for this dish, many other vegetables – including eggplant, tomatoes, African eggplant, greens, and root vegetables – can also be added. In our partner communities, cooks add dried fish to the stew. This American-style soupoukandia recipe replaces the dried fish with fresh seafood like mussels and shrimp:
Okra and Seafood Stew (soupoukandia)
For the vegetable broth:
- 12 cups fish or vegetable stock
- 4 cups thick-sliced okra
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
For the seafood soup:
- 6 tablespoons palm oil
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 large eggplant, cut into large chunks, or 4 small Thai eggplants
- 2 habanero or Scotch bonnet chilies, slit in half lengthwise
- 24 mussels, cleaned and debearded
- 16 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cooked white rice, for serving
- Make the vegetable broth: Bring the stock to a boil in a 6-quart saucepan over high heat, then add okra, bay leaves, and onions. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until okra is tender and stock had reduced by one-qurter, about 1 ½ hours.
- Make the seafood soup: Add the palm oil, 3 tablespoons fish sauce, eggplant, and chilies to the vegetable broth, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soup has thickened and okra falls apart, about 30 minutes.
- Add mussels and shrimp; cover pan, and cook until mussels open and shrimp are cooked through, about 4 minutes.
- To serve, remove from heat and stir in remaining fish sauce and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls, and serve with rice.