I was at my new friend Francoise’s house this weekend, watching a cookery programme with her Mum when I expressed an interest in Senegalese cuisine. “I love cooking too!” her Mum said, “I will teach you to make yassa!”
Two days later I received a call from Francoise early in the morning. It was a bank holiday and I was still asleep. “Would you like to come over for lunch, my Mum’s making yassa?”. Sleepily I wondered if I had understood, as I knew Francoise was working that day. But I had it right, her Mum had invited me around for a cooking lesson!
I arrived carrying an extremely heavy watermelon in the midday sun and had to be sent for a shower before we got going…
To prepare the sauce:
1. 3 large onions
2. Loads of garlic
3. Lime juice
4. Chillis! (Lots if you’re me)
5. Salt and pepper
Marinade the chicken overnight in lime juice, garlic, salt and peper and a little mustard and then grill or bbq…
While the chicken is cooking, heat oil in a pan and cook the sauce ingredients. Then prepare to add magic…!
Put the cooked chicken in with the onions etc, add water and stock cubes and boil vigorously for about 20 minutes and voila!
I had three helpings and then collapsed on the coach where I slept for the rest of the afternoon. In the evening Francoise came back from work and we had yassa again for dinner. Then, with another Senegalese power cut paralysing the city around us, we sat in candlelight and exchanged stories from our childhoods, Francoise and her Mum telling me tales of growing up in the Cassamance, the region in the green South of Senegal.
Later on Francoise’s elder brother Noel came back from church and we tried singing a few songs in English and dancing around the sofas, until eventually a bed was found for me and I woke the next morning to find the power was still out and I was late for work!