Senegal Food and Dining
The cuisine of Senegal has been influenced by nations like France, Portugal, and those of North Africa, and also by many ethnic groups, the largest being the Wolof;
Cuisine from all over the world can be found in Senegal, including Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and other international tastes. Fast food chains are rising in popularity due to convenience and their family oriented style.
- Toufam (a kind of yogurt thinned with sugared water).
- Mint tea, the first cup drunk slightly bitter, the second with more sugar and the third very sweet.
- Palm wine, which is drunk either fresh or fermented.
- Home-roasted coffee with pimento.
- Popular fresh juices are made from bissap, ginger, Buy (pronounced bouy) which is the fruit of the baobab tree and mango.
- Thiéboudienne or Ceebu jën, flavorsome marinated fish cooked with tomato paste and a variety of vegetables, the national dish of Senegal.
- Yassa, chicken or fish simmered in onion with a garlic, mustard, and lemon sauce.
- Tiebou dienne (herb-stuffed fishcakes with rice).
- Maafe, seasoned fish, chicken, lamb, or beef cooked with vegetables in a peanut sauce.
- Dem à la St Louis (stuffed mullet).
- Avocat au Crevettes (avocado stuffed with shrimp).
- Bassi-salté, seasoned meat cooked with tomato paste and vegetables over a local couscous called "cere".
- Sombi, sweet milk-rice soup.
- Capitaine à la Saint-Louisienne, perch stuffed with spices.
- Poisson à la braise, grilled fish flavored with lemon, garlic, and black pepper.
- Dibi, simmered, grilled lamb.
- Thiou, a bouillabaisse with vegetables.
- Fondé, rolled millet-balls in sour cream.
- Thiakry, a couscous pudding.
- Cinq Centimes, the Five-Cent Cookie, a peanut cookie popular in marketplaces.
- Banana Glace, a sophisticated banana dessert . Mamadou is the young owner of Les Cannibales Deux Restaurant in Dakar who went to Paris to learn French cooking techniques. The Banana Glace is his own creation and his most popular dessert. Click here for recipe
How a Dinner is Served out in Senegal
When dining in one of the excellent Senegalese restaurants, you will select an appetizer from a list of twenty or twenty-five, all prepared with great care. The soups will be rich and full-bodied. There will be entrees in abundance; Yassa, Mate, and beautiful Couscous among them. Then a long list of fancy desserts, all served with great flair.
Or you might be served at one of the open-air restaurants where food is cooked on small tournieres, or broilers, which look like hibachis. They average about 15 inches in diameter and are sometimes round and sometimes square. The fourniere has a grate at the bottom and heat is regulated by adding or removing hot charcoal with tongs as required.
Tipping: A service charge of 10 to 15% is included in all hotel and restaurant bills.
Senegalese table manners can be somewhat formal. Wait to be shown to your seat. Seating is often a matter of hierarchy. A washing basin will be brought out before the meal is served for people to wash their hands. Woman and men may eat at separate tables in the same room or they may eat in separate rooms. If the meal is served on the floor or a low table, sit cross-legged. Try not let your feet touch the food mat. Do not begin eating until the eldest male does. Food is often served from a communal bowl. Eat from the section of the bowl in front of you. Never reach across the bowl to get something from the other side. Eat only with the right hand.Expect to be urged to take second helpings. Sample each dish.Leaving a little bit of food on your plate or your section of the communal bowl indicates that you have been looked after.
It is customary to give a small gift when invited to someone’s home for a meal.If invited to someone’s home, take a box of chocolates, French pastries or a nicely packaged fresh fruit.Gifts should be given with both hands. Never use the left hand.