If you’ve ever been to any country in West Africa, you’ve probably heard of Jollof rice. Each country has its own signature version, and each country’s people think their version is the best. Whether it’s Ghanians or Nigerians… who knows whose really is the best.
If everyone was seated at the same table, the Senegalese person would probably be the quietest in this conversation, because we know that all of their recipes are copies of the original Senegalese national dish: thieboudienne. Side note: It’s also spelled cee bu jen, ceeb u jen, thieboudiene, thebouidienne, theibou dienn, thiebou dienn, thiebou dinne, thiébou dieune, tie biou dian, thieb-ou-ddjien, thiebu djen or tiep bou dien — but it translates to a much simpler “rice and fish.”
Like many Senegalese dishes, it’s displayed beautifully, with fish in the middle surrounded by vegetables, all laid atop a bed of rice.
It’s not a fancy dish, but something that’s whipped up to share with guests, often at lunchtime. Women cook the meal for their families frequently, and you can even find some thieboudienne at street vendors. It is most definitely a comfort food.
When the thieboudienne is set down, you better be ready, because spoons go up in anticipation.
The Senegalese version of thieboudienne is spicy, but other countries have different spices and vegetables, and sometimes even use different meat for the dish.
If you ever visit a Senegalese home with thieboudienne on the menu, make sure you give it a try. You won’t be disappointed!