Senegalese Chicken Yassa

Senegalese Chicken Yassa

Serves 4


This well-known Senegalese dish from the west coast of Africa consists of marinated chicken that is either broiled or browned and then simmered with lots of onions and fresh lemon juice. It is often served over broken rice, which has a special couscous-like texture all its own. While this custom began because broken rice was cheaper, it is now preferred. Look for broken rice, sometimes called “Mali rice,” in African and Asian markets. The broken rice in Africa is fragrant Jasmine rice imported from Thailand.


  • 3 cups (about 2 large onions) sliced white onions
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh hot green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1⁄2 cup canola or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 (21⁄2- to 3-pound) fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces


In a shallow, nonreactive (not aluminum) baking dish, combine the onions, garlic, chiles, ginger, bay leaves, thyme, pepper, and salt. Add the lemon juice, water, and 1⁄4 cup oil. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, or up to overnight.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade liquid, reserving both liquid and solids.

Heat 1⁄4 cup oil in a large, heavy skillet (cast-iron preferred) and brown the chicken on all sides. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate.

Pour off most of the oil from the skillet. Add the reserved solids to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes over moderate heat, or until the onions are soft and lightly colored. Return the chicken (and any juices) to the skillet. Add the marinade, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer about 25 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Serve with hot boiled rice.

(from Starting with Ingredients)