I originally set myself a goal of no ‘fusion’ or pan-continental restaurants as I belive they do not give a true taste of the essence of a nation’s cuisine. However I changed my mind on the strictness of this rule after reflections concerning the Senegalese Gambian restaurant helpfully called ‘Senegambia’, which is located close to my flat on Reichenbergerstrasse. I did some research and decided that it would be valid because Senegal and Gambia are very close culturally, and for ten years back in the 1980s they actually became joined as a confederation called Senegambia. And as we all know borders in Africa can be fairly fluid as they are the result of colonial map building rather than being demarcated by distinct ethic and cultural boundaries. So there we are, number 77 Senegambia can be a valid inclusion!
My second problem was that as soon as we decided to visit Senegambia, it closed for an uncertain period of time for renovation. Throughout the summer we called by hoping to make a local blog visit but found it always closed. Finally, on a bus journey in early September, there it was: reopened with shining bright lights, all ready for business.
We came on a Friday evening at 7ish and we were some of the only customers. I started to wonder if this simple, imbiss-style restaurant might perhaps be a tax right-off, as surely this should be a busy time? However my wondering was brought to a halt when I noticed lots and lots of containers flying out of the door being collected by young African guys on bikes. I then realised that Senegambia must have been opened so to serve familar home treats to the many Senegalese and Gambian workers who were busy plying their illicit wares in nearby Görlitzer Park and it was indeed a going concern.
We ordered three dishes to get a varied taste of the cuisine. The fish didn’t appeal so we went for Domoda: a peanut and lamb dish with rice, a lamb Benachin or Jallof which is a mixture of spiced rice, meat and vegetables plus some accara bohnen ballchen to share, which are deep fried crispy beanflour parcels with spicy sauce. The drinks selection was small and with no alcohol so we just took a bottle of water each.
The food that came was very tasty and so filling that I ended up leaving most of my rice so that I could enjoy all the light and flavourful bean balls which resembled savory donuts. The lamb in the dishes was very good and fell apart on the fork as good lamb should. We added some hot sauce to our food but had to be extremely careful as it was mega spicy and left a tingle on the lips. I find african chillies to have a different kind of satisfying heat than asian or south american chillies and this one was moorish but lethal.With a bill of less than 20 euros and very full stomachs we were pleased with our find and will continue to visit throughout the winter for this warm, tasty and comforting food.