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World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Senegal

Senegal Food and Drink

Senegalese cuisine is considered among the best in Africa, with an unmistaken influence from French and Moroccan cuisine. Rice is the main staple, often served with chicken or fish. Senegal is a Muslim country so pork is rare, but alcohol is available.

Peanuts are one of the main crops of Senegal. The aroma of roasted peanuts fills the air, while peanut paste is widely used in stew, infusing a distinctive taste to local dishes.

When dining in one of the excellent Senegalese restaurants, you will usually be offered a good selection of appetizers, all prepared with great care. The soups will be rich and full-bodied. There will be entrees in abundance. Then a long list of fancy desserts, all served with great flair, showcasing the French vibe still present in Senegal's cuisine.

Specialities

• Yassa chicken (chicken marinated in lemon juice, peanut oil, onions and local spices).
• Thiéboudienne (fish with Senegalese seasoning served with rice and vegetables).
• Maffé (peanut stew, often with chicken added too).
• Mulet farci à la St Louisienne (stuffed mullet, a delicacy from Saint-Louis).
• Avocat au crevettes (avocado stuffed with shrimp).
• Dibi (a highly popular street food, roasted lamb is served with grilled onions, mustard and bread).
• Nems (fried spring rolls, filled with glass noodles and ground meat or shrimp, another highly popular street food).

Things to know

In a Senegalese home you would follow the custom of pouring water over your hands as you enter the dining area and then you would wipe them on a common cloth. It is frowned upon to eat with your left hand, so if you're left-handed make sure you sit on your hand to avoid any faux pas.

Tipping

A service charge of 10 to 15% is sometimes included in hotel and restaurant bills. A 10% tip is customary at pricier restaurants.

Drinking age

18.

Regional drinks

• Toufam (a kind of yoghurt thinned with sugared water).
• Ataya (green tea served three times in one sitting. The first cup is drunk slightly bitter, the second with more sugar and the third very sweet).
Touba coffee (home-roasted coffee mixed with a type of hot pepper called selim or fresh cloves).
• Bissap juice (juice from hibiscus flower).
• Bouye juice (juice from the fruit of baobab trees).