Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thieboudienne for 4 or 40

Thieboudienne  (pronounced “Cheebu Jen") is the national dish of Senegal. The name of the dish comes from Wolof, meaning rice and fish. It is a melange of vegetables, rice and fish and it's one dish our housekeeper (Pascqueline) knows how to cook quite well.  I suppose that should be expected - she is Senegalese. And it helps to have her aunt (Annyes) be the housekeeper and cook for our landlord who resides in the house next door within our little courtyard complex. When in need of guidance she can easily call up on her aunt. Up to now I've not had a chance to write up a blog post regarding 'our help' - it's been an interesting experience and dynamic (which deserves a post or two of it's own) but for now the focus is on food!  

The fish for this dish is a firm fish called Thiof - I think the reason this fish over others is it just stands up to not falling apart during the simmering process. The vegetables included in our dish were - carrots, cabbage, cassava, eggplant, onions and turnips. In this instance when we asked her to make the dish - we did not necessarily ask what was in it - thought it best to let her do her thing. Afterwards when it was easy to identify some of the ingredients and not others I went to the grocery list - as she writes down what she bought and for how much - on a piece of paper - it was the "navet" I wasn't sure of and now I know (the turnip). The other thing they love here is oil. Peanuts are a staple so I think an over abundance of oil was also used in the dish. I'll likely now take it upon myself and ask for a substitute of okra and 1/8 of the oil!
Sadly neither Manning nor I had been around the entire time when she prepared the dish. We just stayed out of her way. Next time though it should be worthy of watching. Seems like though from either between the time she started the cutting/chopping from the simmering and and checking on it between other activities plus making the rice - it likely spanned about  3 hours.

You'll notice how the rice has a red/rust color. When the  Thieboudienne is done the liquid fish broth tomato paste reserve is used to complete making the rice.  I might add too a hot pepper is included in the dish for an extra kick!

While Pascqueline is preparing for 4 - her aunt is preparing for what seems like 40.  Mr Diallo - the landlord - was having a luncheon event at his house.

Included with the dish as an option is a sauce called Bissap Leaf Sauce. We did not have that with our meal as it is another time and intensive accoutrement. But you can see Fatou - the other housekeeper - preparing the pasty green sauce for Mr Diallo. It's made of pounding the leaves of the Hibiscus plant. All I can offer is a picture and no sense of what it tastes like.

We could see the table all set nicely in Mr. Diallo's dining room - eating the western way.
The  traditional style of eating this would be by sitting on the ground in which the fish/vegetable stew is piled on top of the bed of rice in a large communal bowl. You then artfully scoop out the food with your right hand, a Muslim custom (as the left hand is considered unclean and used for sanitary purposes).In  some cases people are sitting on  thin benches around the bowl which is settled atop of a small table. We've seen both ways of eating on the sidewalks.

While we haven't had the luxury of experiencing eating this way yet. If and when we do, I'll be sure to take pictures!  Until then - please pass me a plate! 

For dinner, this was one dish we all gobbled up!  It was a nice surprise to see Parker and Addison enjoy the meal - it tasted and looked nothing like mac and cheese, hot dogs, pizza, cheese quesedillas,  or chicken nuggets ;+}


  1. Penda made this dish a couple weeks ago for EB's World celebrations and of course it was all gobbled up before I got there! I'll have to bribe her to make some again. I'm so jealous as you guys can get this made on a weekly basis! Yum!!!

  2. Yum, sounds and looks grand... Thanks so much for posting pics.

  3. See what kids will eat if not pushed!.
    Looks good to me. Maybe you'll fix some when you return and give us a taste.