Ceeb u jeen

Ceeb u jeen : (Wolof) the national dish of Senegal, made with rice, fried fish, a sauce and, usually, cooked vegetables.

This word arrives via Rebecca Cover, who used it once while talking about her time in Senegal. Many thanks to her for her help with defining the term.

Ceeb u jeen means “rice and fish” in Wolof1. The base is rice with a sauce made from oil and spices, and perhaps with added tomato paste. Fish goes on top of the rice.

Speakers might refer to the dish just as ceeb.

“Good ceeb will also have an assortment of cooked vegetables on top of the rice along with the fish,” Rebecca says. Toppings might include cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, eggplants, bitter tomatoes, manioc, or squash. The dish is flavored with maggi or jumbo, and sometimes also with dried fish, hibiscus leaves, tamarind pods, or burnt rice.2

The practice for eating ceeb, Rebecca notes, is to pick up some of the toppings in the hand, along with a measure of rice.

In 1990, Susan Katz Miller wrote about the food’s origins, customs, and continuing popularity. She noted that it had attracted controversy for the amounts of cooking oil used, and for the need for rice, which Senegal must import. The common fish is ciof, a kind of grouper.

  1. Or something close to that. Rebecca notes that u is not the normal Wolof word for “and.” 

  2. Cultures that cook with rice seem often to make a delicacy of the burnt rice – at least from West Africa through Central Asia. More burnt-rice words later. 

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