Yassa Chicken (Poulet Yassa) 6.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jan 15, 2019

Cookbook author Jamie Schler discovered this Senegalese dish while her family lived in Nantes, but her older son ended up moving to Senegal after completing his studies in architecture, so it has become a family favorite.

If you choose boneless, skinless chicken parts, the cooking time may be shorter; monitor doneness as needed.

Serve over white rice.

To read the accompanying story, see: What raising multicultural sons has taught me about food and appropriation.

Make Ahead: The chicken needs to marinate in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings

  • 3 lemons
  • 1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
  • One 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 parts, or that weight in your favorite chicken parts
  • 5 or 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, or more as needed
  • 2 1/2 pounds onions, sliced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup pitted green or purple olives


Squeeze the juice from 2 of the lemons into a container just large enough to comfortably hold all of the pieces of chicken. Add 1 tablespoon of the vinegar. Add the chicken and turn to coat, then cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.

Heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towel. Working in a couple of batches, add the chicken and brown the pieces on both sides; this should take 5 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer the pieces to a plate as you go.

Heat the remaining oil in the same pot. Add the sliced onions; cook for several minutes, stirring almost constantly, to make sure they are evenly done and not burned in spots, until tender, translucent and starting to turn golden. Add the garlic.

Whisk together the mustard and remaining 3 tablespoons of vinegar in a cup and then add it to the onions. Season the onion mixture generously with salt and pepper. Continue stirring for 2 minutes, then stir in the 1/2 cup of water. Let the mixture cook, undisturbed, for just a minute or two, to form a slightly thickened sauce.

Return all the chicken to the pot; cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Pour in just enough water to barely cover the chicken, and then add the olives. Once the liquid is bubbling at the edges, cover and cook (medium heat) for 20 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened a bit more.

Squeeze in the juice from the remaining lemon and stir to incorporate, then remove from the heat. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper, as needed.

Serve hot.

Rate it

Recipe Source

From cookbook author Jamie Schler.

Tested by Andy Sikkenga.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.