Watchi with Shito Sauce, Yaji Seasoning and West Africa on Spice & Recipe

A flavorful dish prepared by Djamil Bah-Traore from Togo, who came to America to become an accountant but passion made him a Chef.

Yaji or Yazi seasoning is a staple of west African cuisine, and it is used to prepare the shito sauce in this particular recipe. Yaji is found with variations in all 16 countries of West Africa, one of the five main regions of the continent.

A dry rub, the spice blend has typically 4 base ingredients: onion powder, garlic powder, ground ginger, and cayenne pepper. Yaji can be used for any dish, but goes particularly well with rice, vegetables, and meats.

Chef Djamil Djibril Bah-Traore prepares his own yaji.

Djamil came to America to study accounting. After graduating college, he found a good job for corporate America, and gave everything up soon after. He enrolled in the culinary program at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska, following his passion for food instilled in him by his mother.

Djamil, a father of four, had to drive a cab to cover the bills while studying food. But it was all worth it.

Today, Chef Bah-Traore strives to show the African food in a different way as the owner of The House of Bah — Djamil’s catering company.

Spice & Recipe with Mike DiGiacomo is a weekly show that you can watch locally in Omaha, Nebraska on KPAO-TV, Cox 22 or Century Link 89, and worldwide on the NAM YouTube channel or this website.

Serving Size: 6-8 people


For Yazi:

  • 1/4 cup ground onion powder
  • 1/4 cup ground garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup ground fennel
  • 1/3 cup ground coriander
  • 1/3 cup ground anise
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

For Watchi:

  • 2 cups of rice
  • 2 cups of black-eyed peas
  • 2 ½ quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda (optional)

For Shito Sauce:

  • 2 cups of olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 medium ginger roots
  • 1 onion peeled
  • 1 cup habanero peppers
  • 1 cup chili flakes or two medium chili peppers
  • ½ cup peeled garlic
  • 2 tablespoon Yaji seasoning.
  • salt, pepper, rosemary, thymes, parsley (to taste)
  • vegetable or protein bouillon base (optional)



For Yaji: Stir all ingredients together, until combined well. It is best to keep yaji in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to three months.

For Watchi: Rinse black-eyed peas and set aside. Heat 2 ½ quart of water in a medium pot on medium high heat until it boils. Add peas, salt, stir and cook for 5 to 10 min on medium heat. Leave lid ajar. Add the baking soda and cook for 15 min until peas are softer but not cooked. Add rice and stir with a wooden fork. Cover and cook on low for 15 to 20 min or until rice and peas are cooked fluffing it once or twice.

For Shito Sauce: Dice ginger, onion, garlic and habanero peppers. In a blender, place all vegetables, chili peppers, herbs and 1 ½ cup olive oil, and blend until a mixture is former. Set aside. In a deep dish, preferably Dutch oven, heat olive oil until hot. To add flavor to the oil sprinkle a bit of yaji or add herb leaves. Add the vegetable mixture and cook on high heat for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the Yaji seasoning and bullion base, reduce the heat, cover to avoid splashing and cook for 5 more minutes.


Serve watchi with vegetables with or without meat. Watchi goes particularly well with roasted zucchini, squash, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. In Africa, watchi is consumed as breakfast, lunch or dinner.


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May 31, 2021

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