Planning Thanksgiving 2015 in Dakar

Now is the time to start gathering all you’ll want for a festive Dakar Thanksgiving! Here’s a general checklist to be sure you’ve got your bases covered in time. Please comment below if you have anything to add!

Let’s talk turkey.
Due to restrictions on importing poultry, the options have been limited in the past. These are the best bets:

Poulet Express will have around 1400 turkeys available Nov-Dec this year. You do not need to call to reserve your bird, but do call in plenty of time so they can organize deliveries. 33 842 9686 or 33 821 5888.

Le Gac butcher in Yoff Virage will have turkeys raised locally on real animal feed, not trash. 😊

Casino grocery stores and Hypermarché Exclusive on the VDN have also carried turkeys in the past. Again, best to reserve. (A word of warning, some turkeys were said to have a fishy taste because they had been raised on food containing, well, fish.)

One bold option (and the one you’ll find on my table) is to order whole smoked chickens from The Smoke Stack. Delicious, special and just a tad off the beaten Thanksgiving path.

(Or ham)
If you’re not set on having something that said ‘gobble’ or ‘cluck’ on your table, here’s a good option for glazed ham that has definite potential.

Between tapalapa bread and cornbread, I think most recipes should work here. The American Food Store also carries Jiffy brand cornbread mix and may have stuffing mix as well.

Good looking celery was spotted recently at CityDia! Buy it now and freeze it.

Sage‘ in French = sauge

Sweet potatoes
Great news! Locally grown orange sweet potatoes have hit the market and are available at CityDia, Castor Market and other places around town – and quite reasonable at 690cfa/kilo.

Local white sweet potatoes aren’t quite right in terms of texture and taste. But carrots work surprisingly well for casseroles and soufflĂ©s. (I usually use 4 carrots to every 1 local sweet potato in my recipes. And I’m not above adding a little red/yellow food coloring to make it look right!)

Mashed potatoes
No probs.

Green bean casserole
The American Food Store in Almadies often carries cream of mushrooms soup, and so does HypermarchĂ© Exclusive. You can also buy the powdered soup mix at CityDia. Or make a white sauce, add frozen mushrooms and cube of beef bouillon. This stuff is what you want to look for.

Good news on the crunchy onions front! The oignons croustillants available in the apĂ©ritifs section at Casino and HypermarchĂ© work great. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the American Food Store has them in stock this time of year.

Cranberry sauce
The American Food Store will have us covered on this one.

From a reader: If you want to enjoy the taste of fresh cranberries all year long, now is the time to stock up on fresh bissap (roselle), as it will be gone soon. Have your housekeeper or a local friend help you get a bunch at the market, wash, chop, and freeze it in small Ziplock bags, and use in any recipe calling for fresh cranberries. Delicious!

For recipes that call for cranberries, you can often substitute… bissap flowers! Just rehydrate them in boiling water, cool and chop. Here’s an example in these white chocolate & bissap oatmeal cookies.

Deviled eggs
Local buutik eggs + cornichons or sweet relish from The American Food Store + mayonnaise + paprika. You’re all set. Here’s a recipe using locally available ingredients.

All ingredients available here, even whole wheat flour if you’re going healthier this year. If you want to get ahead of the game, you could order yeast rolls from Marie and freeze them. On Thanksgiving, just thaw, heat and serve.

Pecan pie
As far as I know, pecans are not easiky available in Dakar. Does anyone know differently? The American Food Store does have Caro syrup in stock.

Frozen pastry crusts are available at most grocery store chains.

Pumpkin pie
The American Food Store has canned Libby’s pumpkin in stock as well as graham cracker crusts.

Or let carrots save the day! Seriously. Try it. You’ll be amazed. (Carrot purĂ©e can also be used in all those pumpkin recipes filling your Pinterest feed.) You can also use local potiron, but I prefer carrots.

All the spices are available individually at Hypermarché, with the exception of occasionally hard-to-find ground cloves.

Frozen pastry crusts are available at most grocery store chains.

If you want a perfect dessert and no hassle, order a cheesecake with berries from Simone Café.

As they say in America… bon appĂ©tit!



  1. Thank you for these tips. I have had alot of luck making pumpkin pie with fresh pumpkin,which I have seen here locally produced (its a different variety of pumpkin from the traditional american orange one). you cut the pumpkin into pieces, take out the stringy bits and seeds, roast it or steam it until tender, peel it, then mash it up well. using a food processor if possible. Then it must be drained for hours. I put mine in a colander and let it drain, turning it now and then to make sure it gets really well drained. Cream can be substituted for evaporated milk.

    • Ah! I’ve tried it a couple times with local naajo/gourde but never drained it afterwards so the pies were too wet. Excellent idea. Cheesecloth?

  2. I just came across this older post,, however,,,,, it is fabulous what you can buy now in Dakar, different than when we lived there in the mid 70’s. No turkeys,,,, we had a friend who worked in the Pan Am office and he arranged to get us a turkey , as it was served on the airlines that time of year. We made do for the side dishes with what we could get and truly had a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner with friends and company people,,,, at their lovely home and lawn way out toward the Coast. ,,,, even though we could not buy those American foods you have mentioned. Dakar is SO LOVELY and we have such great memories.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s