West African Staples with Perfect Ten Hudson and PS21

By July 26, 2018May 3rd, 2024Archive

This post was written by Liani Astacio, Communications Intern at The Sylvia Center and Prep for Prep scholar.

The Sylvia Center is always eager to form valuable partnerships and collaborations. When we had the opportunity to work with both organizations Perfect Ten and PS21 we knew the result would be nothing less than extraordinary. This past week, Perfect Ten, an organization that supports girls from fourth grade to graduation, hosted a program for its students to learn more about West African culture, including its dance, music, and cuisine. PS21, a nonprofit that supports art programming, teamed up with Jamal Jackson and Company to bring teachers of traditional Malian dance and drumming to the Perfect Ten students. Meanwhile, The Sylvia Center provided programming to teach the students how to make West African culinary staples.

One of the dishes we made with the Perfect Ten students includes Mafé, a popular dish in places like Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Mali, and Gambia. Mafe is a stew recognizable by its groundnut (typically ground peanuts) and tomato sauce. An aromatic trio of onion, garlic and ginger, deepens the flavor, making it truly distinct. In West Africa, you’ll find Mafé served from one shared bowl during celebrations and when welcoming guests. The dish is a celebration not only of food and culture, but also agriculture, as peanuts are a major crop in regions across West Africa.

The version we created was served with vegetables, but traditionally it is served with meat, usually lamb. The dish had a pleasing mixture of textures, balancing the rich, thick peanut sauce with a variety of vegetables. Mafé is often served over rice, couscous, fonio, fufu, or jollof, our choice for the day.