Margarita's International Recipes


Chicken Yassa

Chicken yassa was one of the first dishes I first learned to make, twenty years ago when I got married and decided I would learn how to cook by following recipes from the cookbooks at the library. It soon became a favorite dish to serve at dinner parties. I usually pared it with couscous (which is great for absorbing the sauce). The funnest part is that it's a dish you get to eat with your hand (right only, though).

The recipe I've been cooking for years is from Senegal, which is right next to Gambia. This recipe is rather similar, though the ingredients have different proportions (this one favors vinegar rather than lemon juice). This recipe also calls for using "Maggi cubes" (chicken bouillon cubes) as a seasoning. This is commonly done in Africa, but I didn't feel this dish needed it. If you do add them, any good quality chicken bouillon will do. You can find bouillon cubes in the soup or Mexican aisle of any supermarket.

Chicken Yassa


  • 4 - 6 onions, sliced
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 fresh chili peppers (optional)
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup lime or lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
  • 5 lb. chicken pieces
  • salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1-3 cubes chicken bouillon (optional).


In a large bowl, mix the onions, garlic, chili peppers, vinegar, lime juice, mustard, bay leaf and pepper flakes. Wash, dry and trim fat from the chicken pieces. Remove skin if preferred. Cut several slivers on the chicken surface to allow the marinade to penetrate. Add chicken pieces to the bowl and marinade, refrigerated, for at least an hour.

Heat oil in a large, wide pot, over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. You may have to do this in batches. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Turn heat down to medium-low. Using a slotted spoon remove the onions from the marinade and add to the pot. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft. Add the marinade and water and cook for 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the marinade, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and then simmer covered until done, about 30 minutes. Taste, and season with the bouillon cubes and additional salt as needed.

Adapted from a recipe at Access Gambia.

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