MANY hidden gems lie in Greater Dandenong’s culinary scene. This week the Journal launches a new occasional series exploring the scrumptious treats dished up in its restaurants, cafes, shops and stalls, and equally in its home kitchens. CAMERON LUCADOU-WELLS bites into the story of Abdoulie Sallah and his African doughnuts.
IF the claims are true, this could be Homer Simpson’s Valhalla.
Refining his mother’s traditional recipe, Dandenong restaurateur Abdoulie Sallah crafts doughnuts that, he says, are nutritious – and are undeniably delicious.
Sallah says they are the only African doughnuts for sale in Melbourne, and have sold like the proverbial hot-cake since offering them to the public at Queen Victoria Market four years ago.
Back in his West African homeland, the doughnut is a traditional parting gift handed to ceremonial guests. At his Dandenong restaurant African Village Kitchen, customers are advised to book ahead before the doughnuts sell out.
The recipe is a closely-guarded secret. Sallah has added some mystery ingredients to his mother’s version, and won’t even share the IP with his children.
Outside is a deep-fried hard coat, inside are almonds, hints of all-spice, a scone-like texture, with a near-invisible hole in the middle. It is best served with chocolate sauce, fruit yoghurt and honey.
In West Africa, the doughnuts are called the French term beignets, hinting at the gastronomic influence of French colonisers in the region.
Sallah, a jolly and sprightly 70-year-old, struggles to describe the beignet’s unique taste. With a chuckle, he eventually opts for “satisfying”.
Like the rest of Sallah’s diet and his restaurant’s menu, it is a traditional, simple-to-make recipe handed down by generations of African mums. He’s a big believer in the adage ‘what you eat is what you are’, and not having to use too many antibiotics.
“Long life is the combination of food and laughing.”
Do you have a tip on a favourite food sold or served up in Greater Dandenong? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/DandenongJournal