Cooperative members in CREATE!’s partner communities continue to work diligently in their gardens. In September, women harvested many different vegetables, including hundreds of pounds of eggplants, peppers, and okra. They are now setting out new vegetable seedlings and sowing seeds for their next crop. In Diender and Thieneba, cooperative members are now growing turnips, eggplant, peppers, mint, okra, tomatoes, and lettuce.
Once cooperative members harvest their vegetables, they either sell their crops or cook them at home. Women are very happy that they can now grow their own food to cook their favorite meals. Mane Kebe of Fass Koffe expresses a common view of CREATE!’s agricultural training programs: “Now that I can produce my own vegetables rather than buying them from the market, our family has secure access to food.”
Ceebu jën (or thieboudienne) is a traditional Senegalese meal that some call the national dish of Senegal. Women prepare ceebu jën using fish, rice, tomato sauce, and available vegetables. Cooperative members grow several vegetables commonly used in ceebu jën in their gardens. The name ceebu jën means “rice fish” in Wolof, a common Senegalese language. You can make American-style ceebu jën at home using this recipe:
For the fish and stuffing
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons crushed red chile flakes
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 scallions, minced
- ¼ small yellow onion, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 (4-oz.) filets grouper or red snapper
For the ceebu jën
- ½ cup canola or palm oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
- 1 (12-oz.) can tomato paste
- 6 cups fish or vegetable stock
- 6 small carrots, halved crosswise
- 1 large eggplant, cut into large chunks
- 1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into 12 wedges
- ½ cassava root, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
- 1/3 cup dried white hibiscus flowers
- 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 4 cups basmati rice
- Lime wedges, to serve
- Made the fish and stuffing: Mix together parsley, chile flakes, garlic, scallion, onion, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Using a paring knife, cut a 2 inch slit lengthwise in each fish filet; stuff filets with the herb mixture, and set aside.
- Make the ceebu jën: Heat oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and green pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft and paste is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add stock, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, and add filets; cook until fish is just cooked through, about 18 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove filets and transfer to a plate, then cover to keep warm.
- Add carrots, eggplants, turnips, and cassava, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 40 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a bowl; keep warm. Add hibiscus flowers, tamarind paste, and fish sauce, and cook, stirring occasionally, until hibiscus flowers soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add rice, and stir to combine; reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, until rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from heath, and fluff rice with fork.
- To serve, divide fish, vegetables, and rice among serving plates; serve with lime wedges. You can also serve everything Senegalese-style in a large, communal bowl.
Ceebu jën can also be made with beef or lamb.