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Senegalese Chicken Yassa

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Recipe By Chef Jim Coleman

This recipe turns ordinary bland chicken breast into an anything-but-boring dish.


  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 large onions—thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh habanero minced
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 6 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup pimento-stuffed olives
  • 4 carrots, scraped and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup chicken stock


    1. In a large glass bowl, prepare a marinade with the lemon juice, onions, salt, pepper, the 1/8 teaspoon minced chili and ¼ cup of the peanut oil. Place the chicken in the marinade, making sure they are all well covered, and allow them to marinate for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.
    2. Preheat the broiler. Remove the chicken pieces, reserving the marinade, and place them in a shallow roasting pan. Broil them until they are lightly browned on both sides. Remove the onions form the marinade. Cook them slowly in the remaining 1-tablespoon oil in a 3-quart casserole or Dutch oven until tender and translucent. Add the remaining marinade and heat through.
    3. When the liquid is thoroughly heated, add the broiled chicken, the olives, carrots, mustard and ½ cup of stock. Stir to mix well, then bring the yassa slowly to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve hot over white rice.
Photo by Flicker user nyamkitchen / CC BY-NC 2.0

Reminder: The ingredients in a recipe determine if it should be eaten every day, some days, or on special occasions. It's up to you and you doctor to determine what can be part of a healthy diet for you and any special needs you may have.

1 Response to Senegalese Chicken Yassa

  • cocol bernal

    Having lived in Senegal for several years, I’m very familiar with this dish, one of my favorites, which comes from the Casamance, southern Senegal. I make it here often and it has been a huge success.
    However, I don’t agree with this recipe. These are the changes I would make: 1.- I would marinate it in lime juice – lemons are not used in Senegal – only limes.
    2.- The marinade should have salt, pepper, lime juice and the Dijon mustard. I would say about 1/4 cup.
    3.- Do not chop the habaneros – this can make the sauce unbearably spicy. Instead put one or two in the sauce. They are tough and will stay in one piece. They flavor the dish but do not make it spicy. They are fished out of the Yassa at the end of cooking and served on the side. Whoever wants more heat can take one, pierce the skin and tamp the juices onto the Yassa.

    Also – I would use white and dark meat and if possible, grill the meat over charcoal – it makes this a most delicate and delicious dish.

Photo by Flicker user mollycakes / CC BY-NC 2.0

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