Aissatou’s Maaro e Gertogal (Rice and Chicken)
As requested, I’m sharing the recipe for one of the lunches I cooked with my homestay mom in Temento Samba. She never measured anything so if you try to recreate it, use your best judgement, and don’t forget to taste along the way!
Put bissap leaves in a pot and add enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil.
Remove bissap leaves from pot using a strainer ladle and transfer to a separate container. Then, use a hand mixer to purée the tender leaves until a gooey mixture is formed. Add salt and bouillon seasonings to taste. Set aside. *Optional: If okra is available, purée it into this sauce.
Peel the onions, carrots, and turnips. Dice the onions, and chop the carrots and turnips into 1-in matchstick pieces.
In a mortar, crush the black pepper. Then add the chopped onions and more bouillon seasonings, and continue to crush.
Prepare the chicken for cooking, making sure that the meat has been thoroughly cleaned.
Rub the chicken with salt, and then place it in a pot of simmering vegetable oil. Let it cook briefly, just until the outside becomes crispy. Then, remove the meat from the oil, and fry a portion of the onion mix.
After a few minutes, add to the hot oil several cups of water, the rest of the onion mixture, and the chopped carrots and turnips. Also add the chicken back in, and let the pot simmer.
After a little while, add mustard and more bouillon seasonings. Continue to let it simmer.
Then, add an additional 1/2 cup of water along with salt, to taste, and the tomato concentrate. Leave the pot to simmer, removing it only once it has been over heat for a total two hours.
Meanwhile, sort the white rice, making sure to remove any foreign objects. Then, rinse it thoroughly.
Steam the rice, then add it to a pot of water, and let it cook over low heat until the water has been fully absorbed.
Plate the rice in a large platter, lightly cover it in the onion sauce, put the chicken in the middle of the dish, and then distribute the bissap sauce in dollops around the platter. Serve warm.