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Yassa Poulet with Demba Ba

Why should you eat Yassa Poulet?

“Because it’s the best dish in the world, in my opinion! I’m not getting to eat it much in England, that’s for sure.

It’s not easy to find and it’s not something I can cook at home. But fortunately many other Senegalese people know how to cook it, and I have a mother and two sisters – and when I go home, I always ask for this
dish. It’s best to eat it after the match, because it’s pretty heavy.

If you eat a good plate of Yassa in the afternoon, you won’t need to eat anything until the day after. On the other hand, it’s something that gives you a lot of strength.

It’s really a dish more for family gatherings and parties,
but after eating it, you feel invincible.”

Ingredients (serves four)

• 1 chicken cut into eight pieces or eight thighs/breast/drums, with skin removed
• 6 onions, peeled and chopped
• 55ml canola oil (or veg oil)
• 225ml lemon juice (freshly squeezed if possible)
• 225ml white vinegar
• ½ bell pepper
• 3 cloves of garlic
• ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
• ½ hot chilli pepper
• Salt and pepper to taste

How to make

• Blend half an onion, pepper, garlic, lemon juice, spices, seasoning and half the vinegar in a food processor until smooth to create Senegalese ‘Nokoss’ paste. Add to chicken and leave to marinate in fridge for between two and 24 hours
• Remove from fridge and brown on both sides in a hot oven, grill or frying pan. Set to one side
• Pour the oil into a deep pan, chop the remaining onions and cook for 8-10 minutes until translucent
• Add the chicken and Nokoss, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the remaining vinegar, salt and pepper and cook for a further 10 minutes.
• Leave to stand for a few minutes and serve with rice (jasmine, preferably)

High in sodium, it encourages fluid absorption and retention, important for the high sweat rates of early-season matches. It also provides lean protein, to aid post-match muscle repair.

As part of a pre-match meal, it contains a large serving of slow-releasing (low GI) carbohydrates. This helps to keep your legs keep moving when you’re ready to collapse.

As a superfood, garlic has many benefits, but for a footballer it’s particularly good because it boosts your immune system and has natural healing qualities.

Tests have shown that onions have brain-boosting properties – and this tasty dish has loads of onions, helping to keep your mind sharp throughout the game.

This slows the emptying of the stomach, which means you’ll feel fuller for longer. With a whole cup in this recipe, no wonder Ba says he doesn’t need to eat until the next day.

Recipe provided by Marie-Claude Mendy, head chef of Teranga in Boston, USA (see How it works information from Arsenal nutritionist James Collins