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mad mad maad

September 22, 2009  |  Ingredients  |  6 comments

It looks like a yellowish potato that has lived a very hard life, and as far as I can tell it has no official spelling, but what it lacks in charm it makes up for in flavor. 100 francs will get you one fruit, cut open, with cayenne pepper and sugar sprinkled inside.

The shell is very much like a passion fruit, but more rugged, and the flavor recalls passion fruit as well, but intensely, powerfully sour. The Senegalese in my neighborhood did not seem to use it in any recipes, preferring to eat it out of hand. I found that the flavor went very well with seafood, replacing citrus one for one and adding a nice tropical flavor. It is also excellent in desserts. I wish I’d had the chance to make a sorbet.

To use in cooking, you have to get the juice separated from the large seeds and pulp. I ended up just mashing and stirring in a strainer for what seemed like hours, but if you are making a sweet dish, letting the seeds macerate with some sugar should make it easier.

This is not a fruit you are likely to run across outside of West Africa. A decent approximation is equal parts lime juice and passion fruit pulp (seeded or not, as you like). This is particularly good with pan fried sole. Let the fish sit in the mixture for ten minutes, then fry in butter with some very finely chopped onion. Add the marinade to the pan after removing the fish, bring to a simmer, and pour over top.

I actually bought maad out of season at highly inflated prices just to get a good picture, and then left them in the fridge for two weeks until they were entirely unphotogenic. They still tasted good though! The title photo is by Jonas Roux, under a CC attribution license.

Mango Onion Relish

September 20, 2009  |  Recipes  |  No Comments

This is a very simple recipe, but one of my favorites. For almost all of my life I was one of those people who hated cilantro. Then one day I made this relish, and now I am a convert.

While imported yellow onions are both more easilly found and often cheaper in the little boutiques in Yoff, the small red onions grown locally in Senegal have a great hot flavor. If you do not have access to them, I think a mix of red and white onion would work well.


  • 3 large mangoes. Ripe, but firm.
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tsp salt

Chop the onions and mango into 1/4 inch pieces and mix well. Add the lime juice. Toss in the cilantro and salt. That’s it!

An easy way to cut up the mangoes to this size is to cut them into 1/4 inch slices parallel to the seed with the skin still on. Then run the knife around the edge to remove the skin, and chop.