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I grew up part of my childhood in Dakar, Sénégal and one of the national dish (un plat national) is Le Poulet Yassa. I made it for my family last week and I thought I might share this relatively simple recipe with you. Now let me warn you that this is not the recipe for you if you are not a fan of onions!


  • 6-10 nice pieces of Chicken (PLEASE use free-range since you do not want to eat anything that comes out of these industrialized chicken “hotels”). I usually use chicken thighs (les cuisses (f) de poulet) since chicken breasts (les blancs (m) de poulet) will dry out.
  • 6 large onions
  • Juice of 3 large lemons (un jus de citron)
  • Vegetable oil – Peanut oil (l’huile de cacahuète (f) is the traditionaly used one in Senegal
  • A clove of garlic (une gousse d’ail)
  • 4 tablespoons of Dijon mustard (la moutarde)
  • Trois Bouillons Cube of Chicken (you could use stock but to get the authentic flavor, you have to use the yellow Maggi Chicken Cubes which are a staple of all Western African cuisine)
  • 1 Chile pepper (un piment), cleaned and finely chopped (optional)
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg (la noix de muscade)


The night before (la nuit d’avant):

  • Slice all the onions into thin strips (Émincer les oignons) – tip: do this outside to avoid crying (or if really sensitive, use a diving mask!)
  • Mince the garlic (hacher l’ail)
  • Skin the chicken (optional)
  • Marinate (faire mariner) the chicken, onions, garlic, lemon juice, chile (optional), mustard, broken apart bouillon cube, salt, pepper and nutmeg overnight (seal well since the onions are going to ‘perfume’ your fridge :-)

1 hour before serving:


  • Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and grill them (les faire griller) over a barbecue until the skin is browned but the inside is still pink (you can also sauté the chicken in a oily pan)
  • Remove the onions from the marinade and sauté them in a large pan until translucent but not brown (faire suer les oignons).
  • Add the remaider of the marinade to the pan and cook until you have a thin sauce (une sauce liquide)
  • Add the browned chicken back into your pan, cover and let simmer over low heat until the chicken is done (le poulet est cuit)

Serve over white rice and with cooked plantain if you can find them (I used oven baked bananas instead).

Bon Ap’ !

Camille got me this amazing book about a year ago and I love it. Although Yassa chicken is not in it, it’s wonderful if you are into cooking non traditional foods. It travelled with me to France and is a great reference (it has stunning photos too)…

Olivier Karfis

I'm Camille's husband. I teach advanced French conversation lessons as well as handle all the marketing, technical & design aspects of the site. I sometimes cameo on some of the French Audiobooks recordings.

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