Last year the social media space was agog with the #jollofgate saga, thanks to the jollof rice recipe by Jamie Oliver, which many West Africans (esp Nigerians) thought was a sacrilege. I read the most hilarious comments about food ever. People take their food seriously I tell you. I sided with Jamie on the recipe because he was spot on with the basic ingredients and he had stated that it was his TWIST to jollof rice. I have had the privilege/misfortune to have jollof rice from other West African regions asides from Nigeria and Ghana, and I would say never again! Most people who called for his head on a platter mostly had problems with the plating of the food.
In support of #JollofGate, I made this jollof rice which had mushrooms, broccoli, and purple cabbage…. and the ingredients included paprika, cinnamon, turmeric and a host more.
Now the dust is completely settled I’m doing a post on Jollof rice, no fuss, no gimmicks!
* all measurements in the post refer to standard measuring cups and spoons.
- 2 1/2 Long grain Rice
- 2 cups pre-cooked pepper mix (tomatoes + jalapeños + scotch bonnet, ratio 5:1:1)
- 1/4 Tomato Paste
- 1 Cup Chicken or Beef Stock
- 2 bay Leaf
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt to taste
- 2 or more Bouillon Cubes (These days I use MSG-free seasonings )
- 1/2 Cup Vegetable oil
- 2 Onions
- *4 cloves of garlic (optional)
- Hot or warm water
- Chopped mixed vegetables (optional)
- Plum or Cherry tomatoes
Below I’d share how I make my beef stock and the ratio for my Tomato base.
Tomato Base Ratio.
4 cups of freshly blended pepper (Tomato/Peppers/Onion), and 1/2 Cup Tomato paste. Cook the mix till it is well cooked and the water is evaporated.
This is how I make my rich beef or chicken stock.
Celery + Carrot + Onions (Mirepoix in french). I always have smoked fish (see my mum has a fish farm and they roast a lot of fish for sale) most times I save the head of the fish to use in cooking my meats. Most times I add only salt to this other times I may just add seasoning. These days I’m embracing MSG-free seasonings so I favour Adobo Seasoning.
Add a little water (when my meat is fresh I mostly don’t add water except it is necessary when it is frozen I add water to help it thaw faster)
Cook your meats till tender and strain the stock from the meat.
- Wash Rice with clean water until the water is clear and set aside.
- In a clean pot, heat up vegetable oil, chop one onion and fry with bay leaf till the onions are slightly tender and add the pepper mix, tomato paste, stock, curry, and thyme, taste after adding stock before you add the bouillon cubes, and salt, so as not to over season or salt it.
- Allow the pepper to fry a little then add 750 ml of hot water and pour in the rice
- Cook till the rice is tender. If the rice seems to be slightly hard and most of the water has evaporated, turn down the heat, cover the rice with MoinMoin leaves or banana leaves, and cover with a pot lid, this would trap the heat and cook the rice through without leaving you with soggy rice.
* Jollof rice may burn whilst it’s cooking, it is perfectly okay, I know people who live for the burnt bits.
* You have to use a wooden spoon or ladle to stir the rice in thoroughly so the colouration can be even
*There is a potential health risk to using a plastic bag to cover your cooking rice. Heat interferes with the chemical components in the plastic bag to cause a reaction with your food.* Please use leaves instead. I could recommend using tin foil (foil paper) but the jury is still out on the health safety.
– Slice onions and plum tomatoes and stir into cooked rice when it is done.
– If you are adding chopped vegetables stir them in now. Let it simmer on low heat for 5 mins. Turn the heat off and serve.
Naija Jollof rice is not complete without fried plantain. At most Nigerian parties, it is served along with fried rice and moin-moin.