International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Poulet Yassa


(Senegalese chicken with onions and lemon)

Image Creative Commons by rachel_titiriga

Average: 4.1 (40 votes)

Poulet yassa is a famous Senegalese dish that has become popular throughout Western Africa. The long marinating of the chicken in the lemon juice helps to tenderize the tough poultry found in the region.

4 to 6 servings


  • Chicken, cut into serving pieces -- 2 to 3 pounds
  • Onions, thinly sliced -- 4 to 6
  • Hot chile pepper, minced -- 1 to 3
  • Lemons, juice only -- 4 or 5
  • Dijon mustard (optional) -- 2 tablespoons
  • Peanut or vegetable oil -- 1/4 cup
  • Salt and pepper -- to season
  • Oil -- 2 or 3 tablespoons


  1. Add all the ingredients except for the oil to a large non-reactive bowl and mix together. Refrigerate and marinate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Remove the chicken pieces, wipe dry, and grill, broil or sauté them until well browned. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium flame. Remove the onions from the marinade and add them to the pot. Sauté for 8 to 10 minutes until they are well wilted and starting to brown.
  4. Add the rest of the marinade and the browned chicken pieces to the onions, reduce heat to medium-low heat and simmer until cooked through and tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Adjust seasoning and serve with rice, fufu or couscous.

Poulet Yassa Variations

  • Poisson Yassa: Substitute 2 or 3 pounds of firm fish fillets for the chicken. Marinating time only needs to be 30 minutes to an hour in this case. Grill the fish and sauté the onions. Then simmer the marinade without the fish for 10 to 15 minutes. Finally, add the marinated grilled fish and simmer for 10 minutes more.
  • Sometimes vegetables are added to the pot to stretch the meat and add more flavor. Add 2 or 3 chopped carrots, 1/2 head of chopped cabbage or a handful of green olives when you bring the marinade to simmer.
  • Half of the lemon juice can be replaced with vinegar. Cider vinegar works well.
  • Cubed lamb or mutton may be substituted for the chicken. The dish will need to cook a bit longer for the meat to become tender.

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