Poulet Yassa

Servings : Serves 4-6

Chicken Yassa or Poulet Yassa is a traditional Senegalese ‘grilled chicken cooked in onion’ dish, and is one of the most popular West African recipes that can be found in Senegalese restaurants the world over. You may feel daunted by the amount of onions used, but they totally do make the dish.


  • 1 chicken, skin removed and cut up into 8 pieces (approx 1.5 kg)
  • 4-6 large onions, cut in halves and then thinly sliced (preferably white/yellow onions)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp mustard (I use regular yellow mustard although Dijon is preferable if you can get a halal version)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced to a paste
  • 2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1 fresh red chilli or scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped (optional, for added heat)
  • 2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 cup chicken/vegetable stock or water
  • 2-4 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped


In a large bowl, add the chicken pieces, onion slices, bay leaf and scotch bonnet. Mix together the quarter cup of oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, pepper, cayenne and salt, then pour this marinade over the chicken and onions. Combine well, cover and refrigerate for a few hours, preferably overnight.

When ready to cook, remove the bowl from the fridge half an hour before you begin. Separate the chicken pieces out of the rest of the marinade.

Heat the 1 tbsp of oil in a pan and then add the chicken pieces, brown them on both sides for just a few minutes per side, make sure not to crowd the pan. You can do this in batches. Remove on to a plate and set aside. In the same pan, add the onion slices (leaving the liquids in the bowl to be used later) and fry until they are caramelised. Then add the browned chicken pieces back in along with the reserved marinade liquid and the chicken stock or water. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the liquid is almost all gone and the chicken is tender and cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Sprinkle in the chopped parsley or coriander and serve over steamed rice or mashed potatoes.




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