Yassa chicken is originally from Casamance in Senegal. Traditionally it is a dish of sauteed chicken with onions and lemons. 






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Nowadays there are versions that contain green olives, white vinegar instead of lemon or even barbecued meat. To get the onions to really melt in the mouth, choose white onions or spring onions (scallions). Finally, in Africa, meat is cooked with the bones, so if you want to keep with tradition, forget about using chicken breast fillets!


  • 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) free-range chicken
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) white onions
  • 10 lemons
  • 2 tbsp red nokoss (see recipe)
  • 2 tbsp mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 40 ml (1¼ fl oz) olive oil
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • white rice, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time: overnight. (For a better result, marinate the chicken a day ahead.)

  1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry, then cut it into pieces. Peel and finely chop the onions. Zest and juice the lemons.
  2. Place two-thirds of the red nokoss in a bowl and mix in the mustard and lemon zest. Liberally brush the chicken pieces with the marinade. Pour half the lemon juice over the chicken (reserve the rest of the juice for cooking) and mix in the chopped onion. Season with salt and pepper, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. On the day of serving, separate the chicken from the onion (don’t throw out the marinade). Cook the chicken pieces in a large fry pan with half the olive oil until browned on both sides, in batches if necessary. Set aside.
  4. Add the remaining oil to the same fry pan the chicken was cooked in, add the onion and gently sweat over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add the reserved lemon juice, remaining nokoss, bouquet garni and marinade. Adjust the seasoning if required. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and 1 cup (250 ml) water, then cover and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.
  5. Serve the chicken on a large platter with white rice.


Images and text from Saka Saka by Anto Cocagne & Aline Princet, photography by Aline Princet. (Murdoch Books, RRP $45)