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 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, purple cabbage…. and the ingredients included paprika, cinnamon, turmeric and a host more.
* 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)
• Chopped mixed vegetables (optional)
• Plum or Cherry tomatoes
My tips for great jollof rice,
1. A rich beef or chicken stock,
2. Good Tomato base (Ground tomatoes+peppers+Onions & Tomato Paste)
Below I’d share how I make my beef stock and the ratio for my Tomato base.
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 fish for sale) most times I save the head of the fish so as 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, 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 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, and cover the rice with a *plastic bag* moinmoin leaves or banana leaves, and cover with pot lid, this would trap the heat and cook the rice through without leaving you with soggy rice.
* Jollof rice may burn whilst 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
– Slice onions and plum tomatoes (i used cherry tomatoes) and stir into cooked rice when it is done.
– If you are adding chopped vegetables stir it in now.
Jollof rice is not complete without fried plantain. At most Nigerian parties, it is served along with fried rice and moinmoin.