“One who eats alone cannot discuss the taste of food with others” African proverb
In my mind as I walk the busy streets of Dakar, the capital of Senegal, I see curls of wood smoke and the smell of roasting meat assail my senses. I follow my nose and there before me I see long lines of people from all walks of life; young and old, patiently waiting to be served on grease-stained papers chunks of succulent roasted meat, thinly sliced onions in a mustard vinaigrette and a side of bread. I realize that I am witnessing the best of street food Dakar has to offer.
Typical street food, these spice-rubbed lamb skewers, most often called dibi (roasted meat)are bought at dibiteries, “hole in the wall” type restaurants with large wood fires. There are usually no seats or limited seating in a dibiterie, so long lines are the norm. The tradition of roasting meats in this fashion originates from the Arabs, but with sheep instead of lamb. As Senegal is roughly 95 % Muslim, pork would not be used in a dibiterie.
With peanuts being a major cash crop in Senegal, I thought a rub consisting of ground roasted peanuts, and a melange of spice would be delicious slathered on the lamb before grilling. Tsire or suya, a Nigerian speciality, is a thin cut of beef that is marinated in the ground roasted peanut rub, but the term Tsire now pertains to the rub.
For the Lamb
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 cup coarse Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1-1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil, plus more for oiling the grill grates
- 2 pounds trimmed leg of lamb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper
Tsire Spice Rub
- 1 cup roasted peanuts
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Prepare rub by combining all ingredients. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, Dijon mustard and agave nectar. Stir in the onion slices and season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat a grill pan or preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. Oil the grates. In a large bowl, toss the lamb with 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. Salt and pepper the lamb pieces. Use enough of the Tsire rub to generously coat the lamb. Thread the lamb pieces onto 8 skewers.
- Grill over medium heat, turning occasionally, until charred in spots, 6-7 minutes, for medium. Transfer the lamb to a platter and serve with the mustard onions.
The mustard onions can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
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