Senegalese Yassa au Poulet

Senegalese Yassa au Poulet

This legendary Senegalese dish consists of marinated chicken that is either broiled or browned and then simmered with lots of onions, chile (your choice of heat--I use jalapenos but fiery Scotch bonnets are a great choice for those that love their super-heated fruity flavor), and lots of fresh lemon juice. Serve it over broken rice, which has a special texture all its own. Broken rice has a long history in Africa, especially Mali, for rice-based couscous.
Course Main Course
Cuisine West African
Servings 6


  • 3 cups sliced white onions
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh jalapeno seeded if desired
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup water
  • Peanut oil for marinating and frying substitute sunflower, grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1 2½-3½ pound cut-up fryer chicken


  • In a non-aluminum baking dish, combine the onions, garlic, jalapeno, ginger, bay leaves, thyme, pepper and salt. Add the lemon juice, water and ¼ cup oil. Mix with the chicken and marinate refrigerated at least 4 hours, or up to overnight.
  • Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade, reserving both liquid and solids (onions).
  • Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet (cast-iron or non-stick preferred) and brown the chicken well on all sides. Remove the chicken and pour off most of the oil. Add the reserved onions to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes over moderate heat, or until the onions are softened and lightly colored.
  • Return the chicken, any juices, and the reserved marinade to the skillet. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer about 25 minutes, or until the chicken is tender, turning chicken halfway through. Serve with hot broken rice or whole rice, seasoned with ½ teaspoon turmeric.


Senegalese cooks serve this dish with broken rice, originally because broken rice was cheaper. Broken Jasmine rice from Thailand, also known as Mali Rice is preferred.
Keyword chicken, gluten-free, onions, Senegalese, spicy chicken