Food - Drink
Chicken Yassa: The Senegalese Chicken Dish With A Citrusy-Sweet Kick
By VANESSA NIX ANTHONY
What is It
Chicken yassa is a traditional dish from the Casamance region of Senegal in West Africa. The chicken is flavored by cooking with lemon, Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers, and carmelized onions, and it is a communal dish that is often served with rice.
History
From 1659 to 1960, Senegal was occupied by France, so chicken yassa has French influences. The dish is commonly made with lamb or fish, and while it is usually served with rice, it can also be served on top of couscous or fonio — a traditional West African grain.
Ingredients
The key ingredients of chicken yassa are onions, lemon juice, Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers, dark meat or skin-on chicken, fresh ground pepper, garlic, bay leaf, and peanut oil. Based on preferences, it can also have carrots, olives, ginger, or a bit of dijon mustard.
How to Make It
While the ingredients list for this dish is short and the individual cooking techniques are easy, achieving the right depth of flavor requires plenty of time and careful planning. Chicken yassa involves a three-step process that includes marinating, grilling, and then cooking it all down.