#eattheworld ~ Senegalese Poulet Yassa

Welcome to our April 2020 post for the Eat the World project, led by Evelyne of CulturEatzClick here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!

For this month's assignment, we were given the country of Senegal, West Africa. Where do I even begin. I lived in Senegal for 2 1/2 years as a teenager - from about half way through 9th grade through my 11th grade year of high school. My parents worked at Dakar Academy and my siblings and I attended school there. What an amazing time in my life! I learned some French (and have forgotten almost all of it), attended a very small Christian school, made friends from all over the world - many of whom I am still connected with thanks to the world wide web. 

I have many amazing memories of our time there - from the food, to the beaches, to the people, to the experiences... Our class visited the Island of Gorée (once the largest slave-trading center on the African coast) where the history will take your breath away. Some of the BEST ice cream I've ever had at Le Glacier, Lagon II served beautiful seafood while you ate right over the water, and the most delicious burgers and shwarmas at Ali Baba's. Hard to believe that was 13 years ago!! Time really does fly... I have a memory of these huge round fried donuts just STUFFED full of cream, and Mariste sandwiches (loose meat / onion filling on baguettes) they would bring in and sell at the school during lunches at times. I remember walking down the corner to a tiny hut, barely big enough for 1 person to stand inside, to buy a liter of coke and a baguette most evenings. I remember watching my dad buy a couple eggs from a man at a table on the walk to / from home when we lived off campus for the first few months. 

I remember looking out my back window at that first house, and watching a woman sitting in her back yard (square plot, just sand), gutting a goat and throwing the intestines into a large metal tin while her young child (maybe 2) poked at the various organs in the bucket.

I remember being visited by a monkey at that house once, we fed him something and eventually he took off. He had a broken piece of rope around his neck. A guinea hen flew into our backyard and we took care of her / him for a little while before they flew off. 

It was typically very hot, and dry where we lived, and then there was a brief period of time, the Rainy Season, when it was humid and just WET. Heavy rains, and then everything was lush and green. We would play in the mud, sliding around in the water / mud on the field at the school.

I remember visiting the small local zoo where the animals were in very tiny cages, and so close you could literally reach out and touch the bars / animals. I remember seeing trucks piled so high with bags of goods, that I was not sure how they were moving, much less not tipping over. I remember trying to feed a local horse half of an apple, and not only getting incredulous looks from some of the children who saw me doing it, but the horse wouldn't touch it. Didn't know what it was. 

The bougainvillea was absolutely stunning, and pretty much everywhere. I remember getting off the plane our first night, and thinking the moon was hanging the wrong direction. And I remember how heavy and scented the air was. I also remember cockroaches the size of my palm, and rats the size of rabbits. There were bats in the trees around the field too - we shot small bottle rockets off on New Years Eve once, and stirred them all up big time! 

I could go on and on... disjointed moments in time. School memories, scent memories, food memories of two and a half of the most amazing and influential years of my life. I am so incredibly thankful my parents were willing to pick up 3 kids and move us across the world. 

Check out all the wonderful Senegalese dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members to share with #eattheworld:

Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Café Touba (Senegalese Spiced Coffee) #eattheworld
Culinary Adventures with Camilla: The Kitchen Elves' Senegalese-Style Gumbo
Pandemonium Noshery: Poulet Yessa - Senegalese Chicken
CulturEatz: Senegalese Mango Chocolate Pound Cake 
A Day in the Life on the Farm: Maafe
Making Miracles: Senegalese Poulet Yassa
Sneha’s Recipe: Poulet Yassa -Senegalese Style Chicken
Dinner By Dennis: Fattaya (Deep Fried Senegalese Street Food)
Kitchen Frau: Mafé (Senegalese Beef & Peanut Stew)
The Schizo Chef: Senegalese Sweet Potato Shrimp Fritters

Poulet Yassa from African Bites

2 1/2 -3 pounds chicken (thighs, legs, or breast)
1-2 lemons sliced, divided
2 medium/large onions, sliced
1 TBS minced garlic (jarred)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cubes Maggi (or 1 TBS chicken bouillon)
2 bay leaves
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS Dijon mustard
1 Scotch bonnet pepper (sub for 1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste if desired)
1 cup or more chicken stock or water

  1. Combine the thighs with the sliced onion, 1 of the sliced lemons, the garlic, and 1 crumbled Maggi cube in a Ziploc bag. Blend / massage the bag to ensure ingredients are well combined. Marinate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Heat 2 TBS oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken for about 3 minutes per side. 
  3. Add in all other ingredients from the bag - onions, lemons, etc. Add in the bay leaves, Dijon mustard, pepper (if using), and water or chicken stock. Bring to a low simmer, cover and cook about 20 - 30 minutes until chicken and onions are very tender.
  4. Discard the bay leaves and lemons. Taste and adjust the seasonings in the sauce / onions if needed.
  5. Serve the onions and chicken with a little of the sauce over hot cooked rice. Serve with fresh slices of lemon if desired.


  1. What amazing memories you have! That is such an intense age in our lives, and to have been able at that point to experience living in such a wildly different and fantastic culture must have shaped who you are in a big way. It was magical to read your little snapshots of Senegal. Thank you for sharing those with us - it brought the country to life for me!

  2. Awesome to hear about your experiences in Senegal! What was your favorite dish you ate while you were there?

    1. Thiebou yapp is probably my very favorite I ate while we lived there! So good!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing all of your amazing recipes with us. This recipe was very popular this month. I can't wait to try it.

  4. I love the story and memories you shared with us! Thank you so much for that and I love that yassa was so popular this time around, it's an amazing recipe.

  5. Loved reading your post and memories , your chicken dish is superb, this is so popular this month!


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