Thiakry is a sweet, creamy couscous pudding that is a popular dessert in Gambia and also makes for a satisfying breakfast. Couscous is mixed with yogurt, milk and sour cream to turn into a creamy pudding, then is lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and topped with refreshing grilled pineapple and coconut.
Country Number 64: Gambia
You learn something new everyday. Today, I learnt that Gambia isn’t actually called Gambia. It is actually called “The Gambia”. I quite like the idea of adding “the” in front of a proper noun. It makes said noun sound very important indeed. Anyway, lets get back to The Gambia (now we have clarified the correct name of the country in question). The Gambia is the smallest country within mainland Africa. It is situated along the Gambia river, hence the name, and has an area of just over 10,000 kilometres. The country shares it historical roots with many other Western African nations in the slave trade, and has been colonised by both the Portuguese and the British Empire before gaining independence in 1965. Sadly, almost half of the population of Gambia still lives in poverty.
History of Gambian Cuisine
Gambian cuisine is very similar to its West African neighbours. Peanuts, cassava, cabbage, fish, rice and black-eyed peas making up some of the nations most common ingredients. The most common staple food served in a Gambian home is rice, which is normally served with spicy sauces or domoda, a peanut, tomato and onion paste. In terms of protein, fish, chicken and oysters are all very common.
Popular Gambian Vegetarian Dishes
- Domoda– Peanut paste mixed with tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, onions, cabbage, mustard and black pepper.
- Akara– Fritters made of black-eyed peas that are grounded into flour then fried
- Baobab Juice– A popular non-alcoholic drink made from the fruit of a baobab tree
- Maafe– A stew made from ground peanuts
- Thiakry– A sweet dish made from couscous mixed with milk, yogurt and spices
Vegetarian rating of Gambian Cuisine:
Making Spiced Couscous Pudding with Grilled Pineapple (Thiakry)
This around-the-world cooking challenge has really broadened our porridge/ pudding horizons. We’ve made porridges and puddings from oats, semolina, chia seeds, desiccated coconut and rice. Now, to add to that list, is this pudding made from couscous. Thiakry is a typical Gambian dish that combines couscous with milk/ yogurt/ sour cream and spices to create a creamy porridge-like texture. It’s the kind of dish you could heavily sweeten and eat as an indulgent dessert, or lightly sweeten and top with fruit for a satisfying breakfast. We chose to top our thiakry with grilled pineapple, however mango, banana or dried fruit would also work a treat.
How to make Spiced Couscous Pudding with Grilled Pineapple (Thiakry)
Other than the 30 minutes chilling time for the cous cous pudding, this is one of the quickest and easiest dishes you could make. Get ahead by preparing it the night before, chilling it overnight in the fridge and you can wake up to it ready!
- Cover couscous with boiling water for 5 minutes or until water is absorbed. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together plain yogurt, evaporated milk, sour cream, nutmeg, cinnamon, scraped vanilla pod and coconut sugar.
- Stir in the couscous and chopped pineapple to the mixture. Put in fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
- Serve thiakry topped with grilled pineapple, yogurt and shredded coconut.
Ingredient notes for Spiced Couscous Pudding with Grilled Pineapple
- Cous cous- This recipe works best using dry semolina cous cous. You could also used hulled millet, which is also use to make thiakry in Gambia.
- Dairy products- We used three types of dairy products, yogurt, milk and sour cream, for our thiakry. However, if you only have one of these on hand, feel free to just triple the quantity of it (although if you just use milk it may not turn out quite as creamy). If you want to make this dairy-free, simply sub for non-dairy substitutes.
- Coconut sugar– Sub for any sweetener of your choice and adjust amount for your sweetness preference.
Serving suggestions for Thiakry
We served our spiced cous cous pudding with grilled pineapple, shredded coconut and additional yogurt. However, thiakry works well with any kind of fresh or dried fruit, including mango, banana or dried apricot. If you were serving this for dessert, you could also sub the yogurt for cream to make it a little more indulgent.
Did you make this thiakry recipe? We’d love to know! Tell us how it went in the comments below or tag us (@gourmetvegetarians) in your photos on Instagram.