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Mafe, a peanut-based stew with chicken and yams

Mafe, a peanut-based stew with chicken and yams

Andrea Bauer

Traditional Senegalese cuisine and Senegalese-inflected soul food.

Our Review

Senegalese food is a product of the country's position at the gateway to West Africa—the Arabs, French, Portuguese, and English all stopped by and contributed to the cuisine. At his Rogers Park spot, chef-owner Badara "Badou" Diakhate has taken this melding further, experimenting with "Senegalese soul food" dishes like collards and smoked turkey with jollof rice saturated by a brilliant burst of lime, lemon, and habanero. His repertoire also includes traditional dishes such as yassa djendiby yaap, a whole lime-seasoned tilapia smothered in caramelized onion and a chile sauce made with jalapeños and Jamaican scotch bonnets, or a blazing hot plate of diby yaap, supertender chunks of lamb seasoned in a vinegary onion sauce that's equal parts Jamaican jerk and vinegary escoveitch. On another occasion Diakhate prepared his thiebou djen, the national dish of Senegal—a whole fish, scored and smeared with a chile-and-tamarind-based sauce, then deep-fried and served with a towering mound of jollof rice. And then came hearty, thick mafe, a peanut-butter-based stew with fat chunks of chicken and yam. You also might find pastels, empanada-like puff pastries stuffed with peppery shredded chicken, or the golf-ball-size chicken-stuffed pastries called boulettes. Badou's isn't Chicago's only Senegalese restaurant—Chatham's beloved Yassa was first—and for now, Diakhate isn't always immediately prepared to cook everything on the menu. But call ahead and put yourself in the chef's hands and you might end up with something as marvelous as his collards and smoked turkey. There's an extensive vegetarian menu as well. Read the full review >>

Mike Sula

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