Gambian Classic: Churra gerte
Churra gerte is a traditional Gambian porridge made with boiled peanuts and rice. Think of it as a thicker oatmeal with a rich, slightly nutty taste. The base of the dish is a ground mixture of rice and the peanuts. Because the variety of peanuts found in the United States is often different from those commonly found in Gambia, my family would usually bring the pre-ground churra gerte mixture back home after visiting. Not sure how this recipe will taste with the peanut varieties found in the US, but it is worth a try! If you can find West African groundnuts, you'll be able to replicate the authentic taste. Churra gerte is a simple dish, but immensely satisfying.
The Gambia, the smallest nation in mainland Africa, is a resource-poor country, so peanuts are one of the main crops grown throughout the region. Gerte is the Wolof word for peanut (also called groundnut). Peanuts are ubiquitous in Gambian (as well as Senegalese) food. Domoda, a delicious peanut-based stew often served with chicken and a mix of vegetables, is The Gambia's national dish. In Senegal, the dish is called maffe. On the streets of Banjul, you'll also find grilled peanuts and peanut butter biscuits.
Peanuts were first introduced to Senegambia (the region that comprises The Gambia and Senegal) by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
Churra gerte (peanut-rice porridge)
1 cup raw peanuts (shelled with skin attached)
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
3.5 cups water
Sugar to taste
Condensed milk to taste
Optional: add some seeds and/or dried fruit. I added some raisins and sunflower seeds, but I've thrown in some dried mango and papaya in the past.
- With a mortar and pestle, pound the peanut and rice mixture until it is a fine consistency. If you have a food processor, you can use it instead to grind the mixture.
- Bring water to the boil. Stir in 1 cup of the peanut-rice mixture, then reduce heat to a simmer. If you have any remaining mixture, put it in a covered container and freeze it because churra gerte tends to mold easily.
- Stir continuously for 20 minutes until the churra gerte becomes thick. Large steam bubbles should periodically rise from the bottom of the pot and pop.
- Remove from heat. Serve warm with sugar and condensed milk and enjoy!