The Food of Senegal

The food markets of Senegal teem with colour- the bright garb of the vendors blending with their wares of tropical fruits and vegetables. Peanuts are the main crop of Senegal and everywhere the aroma of roasted peanuts permeates the air. Seafood is the mainstay of the diet. 

The meats eaten less frequently are beef, lamb, and chicken. You’ll find no pork, as many Senegalese are Muslims.  The influence of French food in Senegal is unmistakable, yet Senegalese food has a quality of its own, with dishes from many other parts of the world and other parts of Africa incorporated into the cuisine.

Rice is the main starch, with the Couscous of northern Africa also being a great favourite.  Dakar, hot and humid but lovely, is the most important city of Senegal. Here one can have fabulous meals at Le Baobab, Tam Tam, and Les Cannibales Deux. On the outskirts of Dakar you can find delicious Thiou a la Wande, a meat stew. 

In the Casamance region north of Dakar, Yassa, a chicken specialty with onions and lemon, is prepared. In the village of Soumbedioune, where Senegalese crafts are displayed and where you will see fishermen bringing their catch in from the sea, you may have Thebouidienne, the freshly caught fish simmered with vegetables, including white and sweet potatoes, poured over large mounds of white rice.

Hot Spots in Dakar 

Dakar, a west coast port city with s population of two million, was once the capital of all French West Africa in colonial times.  Dakar cuisine is still influenced by French food traditions. 

“Marche Sandaga, is  the main centrally located market for fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, and has food stalls on the roof of the three story cement building that anchors the market. 

Soumbedioune is the evening fresh fish market at the port. Colourfully painted wood fishing boats can be hired for a harbour tour. Food vendors set up shop on site for fried fish. 

Marche de Tilene: a slice of ordinary Dakar life, less touristy then Sandaga.

Keur Ndeye: considered an institution for authentic Senegalese cuisine. “Le Royaltine”, is a place that serves French pastries, cakes and chocolates in the heart of town.

A “Dibiterie” is a small roadside stand around a charcoal-fuelled hibachi, grilling beef or lamb kabobs.  

Thiossane” is a nightclub owned by International world music star Youssou N’Dour, who often performs here.  Senegal is famed for its live music scene.


Classic foods and local specialities

Peanuts are a major local crop and food staple are incorporated in many dishes. 

Maafe” is a popular dish of seasoned meat, vegetables and tomatoes with a ground peanut sauce. 

Thieboudienne” is considered the “national dish”: a variation of rice and fish usually with vegetables on the side. 

French-style baguettes, and croissants and café au lait for breakfast or a snack at road side stands are common.

Stand-up “chawarma bars” feature marinated, spit roasted meats, brochettes, merguez sausages. There are plenty of sandwich  shops and fresh bread stands. 


Destination – Senegal