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Yassa poulet

A plate of yassa poulet with rice from Point d’Interrogation in Dakar, Senegal.

What: The lone chicken dish of the Senegalese classics, yassa poulet hails from the Casamance region of Senegal, in the south of the country. Chicken is marinated in a thick, lemony onion sauce and served with a side of steamed white rice. The soft heap of brown-colored onions calls to mind French onion soup, while the stew is reminiscent of coq au vin. But the flavors—most prominently the piquant tang that the lemon brings—are unique to Senegal. You might encounter this dish in other parts of West Africa, but it originates here.

Good to know: If you see yassa poisson or yassa jën, you’ll be served this sauce with fish.

Where: Small downtown eatery Point d’Interrogation (33-822-5072; Rue Assane Ndoye) seems to offer this dish frequently, and they do a good job of it.

Order: Yassa poulet (2,300 CFA), a sweet interplay of savory and sour. The chicken wing and breast, served on the bone, were good and moist; the onions cooked down to soft ribbons with garlic, making a delicious sauce over the plain steamed rice. This is also a good place to try ceebu jën, if it’s lunchtime, or thiou.

Alternatively: Look for yassa poulet at Marché Kermel (map)—more specifically, under the makeshift tents that set up for lunch Mon-Sat between about 11:30am-3pm—or try the USAID Rice Shack up in N’Gor (map), which often serves this at lunch. A bit more upscale is Keur N’Deye (221-33-82-14-973; 68 Rue Vincens, map) downtown, where there’s sometimes kora music as accompaniment.


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