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Senegalese Cuisine

Enjoy a marvelous journey discovering a less known food culture with unusual flavors and tasty dishes to amaze friends and guests ...


For Senegalese people meals are the most important moment of the day to share and to meet: they usually eat all together, sitting on a carpet around the same tray.


They do not use cutlery, but they eat with the right hand, gathering with fingers a little bit of rice and giving it a round shape like a meatballs and taking it in their mouth. However, when there are European guests is usually offered them a spoon.


When you are here, when you smell in the air, you will find the aroma of roasted peanuts, of which this African country is one of the first producers and first consumers in the world, and the ginger one (gingembre), and if you taste the food you will find the flavor of the chili (cani), one of the hottest in the world, that makes spicy lunches and dinners of Senegalese families.


The Muslim religion forbids the use of pork meat and limit alcohol. So the foods eaten are, fish, poultry, mutton and beef and vegetables, but we have not to forget that the staple food of Senegal consists of cereals, of which the most popular are millet and rice.


In the southern part of the country and in the Casamance, grows the fonio, a cereal with a delicate taste, known for its nutritional value and therapeutic  skills against diabetes; like the millet, it is cooked like  couscous dishes.


The gombo or Kandija is a legume that is harvested before full maturity, when it is still green. It seems to a long chili and can be eaten fresh or dried for storage it and it’s used as a component of Soupe Kandja.


The rice (tiep) is the typical dish and is usually eaten with meat in inland areas or by fish, near the sea.  The tiep with fish is called tiebou-dienne, Tiou au poulet if it’s cooked with chicken.


The chicken is usually grilled after a long marinade (yassa) made with onions, lemon and herbs.


Recently, due to better  life conditions, the use of beef increased. It’s cooked in a sauce made of peanuts with the name of Maffé.


Near the mouths of the Senegal River, there are some typical fish dishes  (dem à la St. Louis, mullet stewed with onions, hot peppers, tomatoes and bread crumbs) and seafood (oysters or huitres temprà).


Today the Senegalese cuisine is enriched by a variety of "modern" appetizers: near the traditional Fataya and Accra (pancakes  of millet or wheat) eaten during the festivities, we find colorful tropical fruit salad and prawns, seasoned with an aromatic vinaigrette.


And what about drinks: in the Casamance palm wine, in the villages toufam, a mix of yogurt , water and sugar, everywhere you will drink mint tea (Ataya) prepared according to traditional usage. But to cool off during the long hot humid days there is nothing better than a good glass of bissap or eau de gingembre!







(Mint Tea)


The tea is drunk at any time of the day: spend time pleasantly together. According to tradition the drink must  be prepared in a “ritual” for three consecutive times. A local proverb says, "The first tea is bitter as death, the second is sweet as friendship, the third sugared as love."




1/2 cup of Chinese green tea

Sugar -  according to your taste

mint (preferably fresh)



Place the metal teapot with some water directly on the fire. When it starts to boil, add tea leaves, turn off the heat and let it stand for 3 minutes, then drain the water completely. This operation stand for washing the leaves.

Put the teapot on the fire with three cups of water and wait till it boils.

Place the tea leaves in small glasses, pour over boiling water and pour from one glass to another, dropping from the top so that it forms a nice foam. Repeat this several times, before pouring the tea back into the teapot with mint and sugar. Let stand tea for 3 minutes before serving the tea for the first time. This will be the stronger tea. Pour three cups of boiling water into the pot, stir well and let stand another 3 minutes before serving it for the second time. Repeat for a third time to obtain an even lighter tea.




(Hibiscus drink)




40 grams of leaves of hibiscus

sugar  - according to your taste

1 liter of water


Soak the hibiscus leaves in cold water and leave them for several hours until the water becomes completely red. Add sugar in abundance, mix well. Strain the drink, squeezing the leaves in order to extract all the flavor you can. Dish out with fresh ice. If you wish, you can flavor with a few drops of orange blossom or a teaspoon of vanilla extract.




(Ginger Cocktail) ... a Mocktail ... it seems it has aphrodisiac and stimulant properties.




200 grams of fresh ginger root

2 liters of water

3 grapefruits

3 lemons

sugar  - according to your taste


Peel the ginger root and chop it finely. Shake it with a mixer along with water and then strain through a fine mesh strainer. Add the juice of the squeezed lemons and sugar. Dish out very cold.




(Exotic salad)




1 ripe but firm avocado

1 ripe mango

1/2 pineapple

100 grams of prawns

1 ripe tomato


1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, rapè

peanut oil

salt and pepper


Boil the prawns for a few minutes in salt water thus remove their shell. Diced mango, avocado, pineapple and tomato. Line the bottom of a salad bowl with the lettuce leaves, washed and drained. Place over the exotic fruits and prawns. Prepare a vinaigrette by mixing together the chopped ginger, salt, pepper, red pepper and peanut oil. Dress the salad and dish out after mixing all the ingredients.





(fish pancakes)




450 grams of flour

1/2 liter of milk

500 gr boiled codfish

1 liter of oil for frying

1 tablespoon of vegetable/seeds oil

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon Tabasco

1 tablespoon rapè lemon or thyme

a pick of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of baking powder

3 egg


In a bowl put the codfish cut in small pieces and mix it with flour, lemon peel (or thyme) and bicarbonate (or baking powder). Then add the eggs, vegetable/seeds oil, milk and Tabasco. Season with salt and pepper as per your taste, mix very well and let the dough rest for about an hour.

Heat the oil for frying. When it is hot but not boiling, take a little bit of dough with a teaspoon and, using a different spoon, drop the dough into the oil. The pancakes will swell and they will turn, on their own.

As soon as they become golden, drain and pour on paper towels. They should be served immediately.

The secret is to fry them  few at a time and always in abundant oil.




(Hot Sauce)




100 grams of chilly pepper "cani"

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1 tablespoon strong mustard

2 cloves of garlic

lime juice

oil and vinegar


In a mortar grind chilies with a little bit of water and reduce it as a mush. In a small saucepan, sauté in the oil the chopped garlic along with the pureed of chilies, tomato paste, a bit of vinegar, mustard, lime juice and a little bit of water. Cover and let it simmer for 20 minutes, until the sauce becomes dense. The cani can be kept in a glass jar in the refrigerator for a month. It is usually used to give to Senegalese dishes a spicy touch.




(holidays’ Couscous)


The BASSI SALTÈ is set to thieb bou dienne, the most popular dish of Senegal. The dish has a distinctive smell because of the baobab leaves.




For the soup:


1 large chicken, cut into six parts or a grind of mutton cut into pieces

2 leeks chopped

250 grams of chopped onion

1 cucumber

250 grams of pumpkin

3 eggplants (small and round)

3 ripe tomatoes

500 grams of sweet potatoes

150 grams of boiled white beans

3 carrots

2 white turnips

1 bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf, parsley, celery)

1 African chili (pili-pili)

 2 tablespoons of peanut oil

salt and pepper


For the semolina:


500 grams of wheat bran or millet

1 lime squeezed for cooking millet

100 grams of raisins

12 pitted dates

2 dried bananas sliced

1 tablespoon of powdered baobab (optional)

6 dried figs, cut into pieces


Peel the vegetables, except the pumpkin and eggplant to which you leave the peel and cut the whole into large pieces. In the lower part of the couscous-pan, heat the oil, then put the meat with onions and leeks to cook on high heat. Mix well. Add all the vegetables, leaving the most delicate ones as latest.

Cover with two quarts of salted water, add the bouquet garni, chili and pepper. Cover and simmer for an hour and half. Then moving on to cooking semolina. Pour the flour in a large bowl.

If you use the flour of millet, first of all you  must add lime juice to water so the grains will be separated from each other.

Grease your hands with peanut oil and knead the flour with the palm of the hand, sliding it between your fingers.

Wet the semolina with cold unsalted water , continuing to “flake” it, so you will avoid the lumps. Wet when continuing to manipulate it. Then rest it for 15 minutes before repeating the operation.

At this point, lightly grease the inside part of the top of the couscous-pot and pour in the flour. Then leave it steaming, without lid, over the meat and vegetables.

After 10 or 15 minutes, pour the flour in a large bowl, let it cool and moist it with warm salt water, and handle with your hands to avoid lumps. Put the flour in couscous -pot along with dried fruits and the baobab powder.

Continue steaming for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile add to the soup the boiled beans.

Dish out in two separate trays. On one tray the semolina with dried fruit, on the other vegetables on a layer of beans.




(Rice with fish)




2 cups of rice

2 sea bass or sea bream

50 grams of dried or smoked fish

1 dozen of gombo

4 tablespoons of tomato sauce

6 carrots

2 eggplants

1 piece of pumpkin

4 sweet potatoes

1 small white cabbage

3 onions

3 cloves of garlic

3 bay leaves

1 bouquet of basil

1 bouquet of parsley

1 pinch of thyme

1 cup peanut oil

salt and pepper


Cut the cleaned  fish into 5 pieces, then dry them and keep them apart. Soak the dried fish.

 Chop together parsley, onions, basil, thyme, 2 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper. Make cuts into the fish slices and fill them with the stuffing obtained.

In a large pan, fry the finely chopped onions. Place over the pieces of fish, and smoked fish. Let them brown for 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste diluted in two cups of water, add the basil leaves and the chopped bay. Add salt and pepper and simmer another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, clean the vegetables: boil cabbage after cutting it in two parts and drain it. Wash and drain the rice then put it to cook.

When the fish is cooked leave it from the pan and keep it apart in a warm place. In the same pan add carrots, potatoes, eggplant. Sprinkle with 3.5 liters of water. Cover and cook 30 minutes.

Add to the boiling soup: gombo, cabbage, pumpkin, wait 5 minutes; then drain all vegetables, together with 2 ladles full of soup. Raise the heat to maximum. Pour the rice into the soup as a rain. Stir and cook for 8 minutes; then lower the heat to the minimum. Season with salt, cover. Let it cook for another 20 to 25 minutes. When it’s ready, put the rice in a dish and in another one the fish and the vegetables. Pour the soup into a bowl and in another bowl the hot sauce – sauce cani (see above).




(Grilled chicken marinated)




1 chicken, about 1 kg and 1/2

2 cups long-grain rice boiled

zest of 1/2 lime or lemon

1/2 cup of lime or lemon juice

5-6 onions

1/2 cup peanut oil

1 pinch of thyme

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper

chili paste (optional)


Cut a chicken in order to get 7 pieces (thighs, wings, breasts).

Carve the meat and rub it lightly with the lime zest. In a large bowl let marinate the chicken pieces in lime juice for about two hours. Turn the meat occasionally so that all the pieces will soak the juice.

Drain then the chicken pieces and keep the marinade aside.

Grill meat on a charcoal grill, grease the meat with oil and be careful that they do not develop any flame. Aside peeled onions  and cut it in rings, then let them brown slightly in peanut oil in a nonstick pan.

Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and add the thyme, bay leaves, lime zest and marinade. Simmer the sauce for about 15 minutes. When the meat is well cooked dish it out in an oval plate placing it in the center; at the two ends place two bowls, one containing the sauce, the other the boiled rice. For those who love strong flavors you may add chili paste.




(Stewed Beef in peanut sauce)




500 grams of beef

100 grams of peanut butter

200 grams of boiled rice

1 onion

50 grams of tomato paste

1 clove of garlic

1/2 cabbage

2 medium potatoes

2 carrots

2 red chillies without seeds

peanut oil

salt and pepper


Dice the meat. Chop onion and chilies. Grind the garlic. Heat the oil in a pan, when it sizzles, place the meat and sauté for 5 minutes; add garlic, onion and chilies; salt and pepper, stir and let it fry for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste (after mixing it with 2 tablespoons of water); stir and let it cook for another 5 minutes. Cover with 3/4 of a liter of water and bring it to boil.

Combine all whole vegetables, already washed. Cook them for about half an hour and then remove cabbage, potatoes and carrots. Melt the peanut butter in 1/2 glass of water and add it into the pan. Cook again for 15 minutes stirring frequently to avoid that the peanut paste sticks on the bottom, until it becomes creamy. Season with salt and serve very hot on boiled rice.


SOUPE Kandja


(Soup Kandja)




1 kg of rice

1 kg of gombo

1 slice of fresh fish

1 slice of smoked fish

1 piece of dried fish

250 g of chicken meat

12 shrimp

4 crabs

1 fresh chilly

1 dried chili,

nététou (typical flavour of Néré tree seed (Parkia biglobosa))

3 cloves of garlic,

1 green onion,

1 tablespoon of tomato paste,

2 tablespoons oil

250 ml of palm oil


Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan on the stove and add the meat and after a couple of minute the onion into small pieces and let it brown. Add the tomato and let it cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add water and a bit of salt in the pot and let the meat boil. Add the fresh fish, dried fish, crabs and shrimp opened and cleaned and fresh pepper . Simmer. Wash gombo, cut it and reduce it to a puree. Prepare the "nokoss" chopping dried chilli, nététou, garlic and green onion and add it to meat.

Add the gombo and simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add the oil palm and  let it simmer. Dish out with white rice.


















Copyright © Toolou Khady 2011 - All Right Reserved  C.F.97607430150 Non-Profit Association Registered On 21/11/2011 al n. 2381 series 3


Aut. Ministry of Interior of Senegal n. 018044 3/12/2014

 Region Lombardia
City: Milan
Via Brusuglio, 67
ZIP CODE  20161
Mobile: +39 331-3572366


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