The most important tip I can give you on Senegal local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Senegal, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in Senegal
Be careful with food prepared by the road, as it could be cooked in unsanitary conditions. Western-style meals are available and can be found at restaurants in various parts of Dakar, Thies, Saint Louis and other towns and near the big hotels in the Petite Côte and in some other touristic regions of the country, too. If you really want to try the genuine Senegalese food, you can buy it at restaurants serving Senegalese dishes; or alternatively, you can make it yourself with the food gathered fresh from the markets or supermarkets.
The official dish of Senegal is ceebu jen (or thebou diene) — rice and fish. It comes in two varieties (red and white — named for the different sauces). The Senegalese love ceebu jen and will often ask if you’ve ever tried it, and it is definitely part of the experience. Even better if you get the chance to eat with your hands around the bowl with a Senegalese family! Keep your eyes out for the delicious, but elusive ceebu jen “diagga”, which is served with extra sauce and fish balls. Other common dishes are Maafe, which is a rich, oily peanut-based sauce with meat that is served over white rice. “Yassa” is a delicious onion sauce that is often served over rice and chicken, “Yassa poulet” or with deep fried fish “Yassa Jen.”
What to Drink in Senegal
Senegal doesn’t have a legal drinking/purchasing age of alcoholic beverages. However, because it’s a predominantly Muslim nation that respects Islamic law, people in general are expected not to drink. So finding places that sell alcoholic beverages maybe difficult. If you intend to explore the arid area of Senegal (Saint-Louis & Ferlo), you need to drink several liters of water a day. Even in Dakar, dehydration is possible during warmer months if you do not drink enough water each day.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.