Yassa – A Foto Love Story

21. März 2010

[by Asisa] What is Yassa? Some call it a spicy and marinated dish from Senegal prepared with onions and poultry.

I call it rice and chicken turned into ultimate Heaven in a bowl.

I learned to cook Yassa from the Senegalese husband Pape of my friend Bärbel in 1993 and herewith write down this recipe that I modified over the years by adding a spicy twist. When I recently cooked it for Bärbel, she was completely over the moon. When she raved over it, Pape just said „Ccchhhsss …!“ — which is the strongest expression of indifference imaginable. An entirely faked indifference, sure enough.

In order to cook an authentic, very yummy, traditional Yassa, you need:

  • Big Spanish onions
  • Lemons
  • Chicken (thighs or drumsticks)
  • Madame Jeanette
  • Bay leaf
  • Olive oil
  • Mustard
  • Salt
  • and unfortunately also some fat bouillon cubes, preferably the ones from Maggi spread all over the world.


Pape, told me, that I must use bouillon cubes. I said „Why? It’s bad for us! MSG is utter shit and should be banned!“ But he said „Ccchhhsss …!„, so that was the end of the discussion. Bon.


Put on some gloves and leave them on, till I tell you to take them off. Peel the onions and cut them – not too fine, just zack zack zack!


Then squeeze 8 lemons – juicy as shown on the picture. See? This is the juice (I must replace the pictures, they are not nice, my apologies).


I know it looks scary but once everyting is ready, it will taste incredibly delicious because by then all ingredients will have caramelized tasting sweet and aromatic with the perfect grade of sourness.

Pour the lemon juice into the casserole with the onions. Then add two big spoons of a good French mustard, some bay leaves, salt, and those motherfucking bouillon cubes.

Add spices

Mix everything with your hands. Then add the washed chicken and massage it well with the rest. Add some sunflower or olive oil. Not too much. If your chicken is fat, don’t add any oil at all.

Mix well

Once you finished covering the chicken with the flavoured lemon onion mix, let the whole thing marinate. I remember I once told Pape „Hey Pape, you know what? I made a Yassa straight from the casserole to the oven without marinating it and it tasted delicious.“ Guess what he said. You can write it into the comment box.

If you decide to give the chicken some time to marinate, start the preparation after your sunday breakfast or if you are in the mood on a Staturday evening before you go to bed. Make sure to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight, not longer. I never marinate it. Not that I wouldnt believe its necessary but because I never can foresee when I want to eat it.

You are still wearing the gloves, right? Good. Because now you will cut the Madame Jeanette in halves and remove the seeds under cold running water. You might start to cough like crazy. Don’t wonder and hurry up. Then put the clean Madame Jeanette halves into a bowl or big cup and cover it, so you can breathe again.

Madame Jeanette

Once the chicken is marinated, put the open casserole into the oven on the highest temperature available which is 220° C. Don’t use air circulation. Just make it hot from all sides. You have to feel it. It is very important to have a good feeling for cooking because this dish is Heaven if it is cooked well but complete Hell if it doesn’t caramelize properly. So turn down the heat, if the food starts burning. It should simmer in great heat without getting burned until the big mountain of onlions turned into a creamy, very reduced, soft, decreased mass.

It takes much longer to caramelize the onions, than to cook the chicken. Therefore remove the chicken once it’s done (not pink anymore) and leave the onion-lemon-mix in the oven. Cover up the chicken in a bowl and just leave it in the kitchen.

Once the onions look like on this picture taste them. They must have a sweet delicious taste. If not, continue to cook them.


Once they are done (depending on the amount of ingredients and the heat), put back the chicken into the casserole with the skin up to grill till golden brown and hot.

Huhn fertig

In the meantime add a very good, extra vergine olive oil to the bowl with the cleaned and halved Mademe Jeanette. They should be fully covered in oil.

Madame im Öl

Then add some of the yummy onions mix to it …

Madame und sauce vor dem mixen

… and mix it with a mixer until it’s creamy like this. The yellow colour comes fromt the yellow Madame Jeanette.

magic fertig

Serve with a super good, waxy, hot steaming Basmati rice. Basmati, Chicken, Onion and Magic Cream – enjoy your Yassa!Titelbild

Addendum: The recipe also requires the use of green olives. They are not shown in this picture. In order to protect the taste and healthy fats of the olive, I don’t heat them but add them once the dish is ready to serve.

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  • Reply Alexandra 4. April 2010 at 17:00

    Looks delicious! Must try this some time…

  • Reply Asisa 5. April 2010 at 13:18

    Moet je doen, het is echt verrukkelijk! 😉

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