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Salatu Niebe (black-eyed beans salad) from Senegal
Salatu Niebe is a Senegalese salad made popular outside Senegal by Chef Pierre Thiam, one of Senegal’s renown chefs and author of the cook book “Yolole! Recipes from the heart of Senegal”.
I must admit salads of any kind did not feature much in my culinary life experience growing up in West Africa. Three square meals of some heavy stuff – mostly carbohydrate rich staples and either chicken, fish or meat was the norm. It was, therefore, a pleasant surprise when I came across Salatu Niebe. This wasn’t just a salad but it was a bean salad that has black-eyed beans, a legume as its base. Black-eyed beans is thought to have originated from West Africa. Two of my favourite meals Red Red beans stew and Koose (also known as akara) are made from black-eyed peas or beans.
Salatu Niebe had me at hello. The kaleidoscope of colours alone in the salad would get you salivating and feeling cheerful. I had to have it when I read about it and learned a bit more about its history. As luck would have it I had boiled some black-eyed beans a few hours before so I was more than half way through re-creating Chef Pierre Thiam’s Salatu Niebe.
The other ingredients for this meal are simple and easy to find. I did, however use both red and yellow bell pepper, even though the original recipe called for only red. The preparation was simple and straightforward and was flavourful enough to know that this was a salad that will be added to my list of favourites. It makes for a break from my normal “leafy” salads and I am sure any health and flavour conscious folks would love it. It is I guess substantial and hearty enough to be considered a full meal and not just a side.