Friday, 24 May 2024

Go To Roxbury And The South End To Eat West African Food

When I spoke with Sahr Josiah last October about his restaurant Bintimani, which serves food inspired by his native Sierra Leone, he said one day he might want to expand to a bigger space so he and his wife Baindu could do bigger things. But as he said it, he paused — they’re happy where they are for the moment, he said, because Roxbury’s Dudley Square is a hub for Africans living in Boston.

As such, there’s some excellent African food to be eaten there. In this crawl, the focus is on West African cuisine — in particular, that of Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal.

Start with the Josiah’s spot, and then work your way toward Nigerian food down the street at Suya Joint before crossing into the South End for some Senegalese cuisine at Teranga.

Stats for this food crawl:

  • Total stops: 3
  • Whole fried fish consumed: 1
  • Suya skewers snacked on: As many as you can take, because they’re incredible
  • Bowls of goat stew slurped on: 1

Whole Fried Tilapia and Crain Crain at Bintimani

1127 Harrison Ave., Roxbury, MA 02119

Bintimani is an impossibly small, mostly take-out restaurant tucked inside Mr. G’s Plaza in Dudley Square. Don’t get take-out; eat there. The Josiahs — a charming couple whose ultimate goal is to nourish their patrons with the food of their native Sierra Leone — have been feeding residents of Dudley Square since 2014. Get the whole fried tilapia, but don’t forget to get the fufu (spicy okra sauce) and the crain crain (a stew made with mallow leaves), too. Sahr Josiah described the crain crain as being a bit slimy but said Americans love it once they’re able to get over the texture. It’s all served with a bowl of white rice, which when mixed with the fufu and the crain crain is about as good as white rice can be.

Suya Kebabs at Suya Joint

185 Dudley St., Roxbury, MA 02119

Suya — skewers of spicy meat — is a popular street food in West Africa. Suya Joint, owned by chef Cecelia Lizotte, serves a Nigerian take on the dish. Get one of each of the beef and chicken variety, and also get the goat stew with an accompaniment of yuca fufuMake a small ball of the fufu with your hands, dip it into the goat stew, repeat. Wash it all down with a Club (a beer brewed in Monrovia, Liberia) or some palm wine.

Thiebou Djeun at Teranga

1746 Washington St., Boston, MA 02118

After all that suya, head to Teranga in the South End. (It’s 15 minutes by foot or less than five by car.) Thiebou djeun is a popular Senegalese dish made with herb-stuffed whitefish cooked in a tomato-based stew. Teranga’s rendition is served with rice, cassava, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, and pumpkin. If you’re still hungry, try the dibi, which is a grilled lamb chop served with pickled onions, mustard sauce, and sweet potato fries.


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