The Table of My Ancestors: Week 18 (Senegambia & Guinea – The Gambia)

Despite having lived in West Africa for nearly five years, there are so many countries in the region that I never had the chance to properly visit. The Gambia is one of them; my experience with it is an hour-and-a-half layover on my way out of Monrovia, during which we weren’t allowed to leave the plane. However, much like Senegal, their cuisine has a distinctly French flair, so I was really excited to explore the country this week with one of its most popular dishes: poulet au yassa, or chicken yassa. (This can be made with a whole fish in substitution for the chicken as well, by the way.)

The yassa is almost a type of curry made from onions, garlic, salt, pepper, chilies, lemon and dijon mustard. The meat marinades in the mixture and then is seared in a pan before being immersed in the sauce to finish cooking. It’s served as a type of stew over rice.

What really makes it is the combination of the citrus and the mustard; it’s truly out of this world. My family ate the whole dish with no leftovers, which is rare for us! I’ve heard it can be made with limes instead of lemon, but I think I’ll stick to the lemon because it was just that good.