Ceebu jën: A dish enjoyed by 70% of Senegalese families

May 7, 2024

Ceebu jën is a Senegalese culinary masterpiece that captivates the taste buds and unites communities.

A dish with deep roots

Also known as thieboudienne, this beloved dish holds a special place in the hearts of many Senegalese families. According to a recent survey, about 70% of households in Senegal regularly indulge in this iconic dish. The name Ceebu jën, which translates to “rice and fish” in Wolof, perfectly encapsulates the essence of this meal, which has become a national treasure.

Originating in the coastal city of Saint-Louis, Ceebu jën started as a simple meal for fishermen, made with fresh fish, broken rice, and an assortment of vegetables. Over time, it has evolved into a complex and richly flavoured dish, reflecting the diverse culinary traditions of Senegal. The vibrant mix of carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, and other ingredients creates a visual and gastronomic feast that is as delightful to the eyes as it is to the palate.

This is more than just a dish; it’s an experience steeped in tradition. The fish, typically marinated in a blend of spices and herbs, provides a rich and savoury taste. The rice, cooked in a tomato-based broth, absorbs the flavours of the fish and vegetables, creating a harmonious blend.

The dish is also visually appealing, with the vibrant colours of the vegetables contrasting against the fish and rice. Traditionally it is served in a communal bowl, embodying the spirit of Senegalese hospitality and togetherness.

The global food scene has also embraced Ceebu jën, with restaurants in cities like Paris and New York offering the dish to food enthusiasts looking for an authentic taste of Senegal. The popularity of Ceebu jën has even led to the creation of ready-made kits, available in some specialty stores for around €10 (from 6500 CFA Francs). These kits make it easy for home cooks around the world to experience this unique dish.

Making the perfect Ceebu jën

  1. Quality ingredients: Fresh fish, such as grouper or snapper, and vibrant vegetables are crucial.
  2. Balanced flavours: Ceebu jën relies on a delicate balance of savoury, sweet, and tangy flavours. Using fresh herbs, spices, and high-quality tomatoes is key.
  3. Presentation: While Ceebu jën is traditionally served in a communal bowl, individual plating with garnishes like fresh herbs and lemon wedges can enhance its visual appeal.

Ceebu jën is not only a culinary delight but also a cultural symbol. It’s often served during family gatherings and celebrations, symbolising unity and hospitality. In 2021, UNESCO recognised Ceebu jën as a piece of intangible cultural heritage, highlighting its significance to the Senegalese identity. This recognition has further elevated the dish’s status, both locally and internationally. Learn more.


  1. Ndiaye, A. (2023). “Le thieboudiene, délicieux monument sénégalais.” Le Monde. Source.

Photo: Keesha’s Kitchen for Unsplash

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