Jollof Rice is a tomato based rice dish enjoyed by many (Africans and non-Africans) all around the world. It is one dish that West Africans in particular can go to war for and an absolute staple for both home cooking and festivities. Hilarious as it may seem, there’s an ongoing feud between Nigeria and Ghana over which country's jollof rice is better; each claiming superiority over the other. It is likely this feud may never be resolved especially as neither will be willing to backdown for the other. Interestingly, it is has been discovered that the dish did not originate from either of those African countries. In any case, you will find that each country will have a different method of preparing this dish and will make use of different ingredients. Naturally, as a result of this, there will be various outcomes in taste and it will then be down to individual preference.
In Nigeria, Jollof rice is the only dish that cuts across every tribe and ethnic group in the country and no party is complete without this famous dish. Although, there are different ways to prepare this meal, the “party jollof” is and will forever be king. It is cooked outdoors, using large local cast iron pots which are placed on top of large chunks of firewood. The smoky heat from the charcoal adds a unique scent and flavour that is unforgettable to the senses. You can recreate this effect at home by deliberately burning your jollof rice in the pot at the end of the cooking process. There are people that have sworn by the special pot that they make us of at home and that is what makes all of the difference. It may well do... i don't know. I simply believe you can achieve a decent Jollof rice dish by cooking it with patience an a dash of LOVE.
Anyway, If all this talk of food has stirred up (pun intended) something in you and you will like to give Jollof Rice a go in your own home today.
Below is a recipe to recreate this iconic Nigerian meal in your home:
- Preheat the cooking oil in a large pan. Once the oil is heated up, add the diced onions and fry for about 3 to 5 minutes or till the onions becomes translucent.
- Add the tomato paste and fry for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and bay leaves and allow it cook in the tomato paste for about 2 minutes.
- Add the blended pepper and allow the pepper mix to cook until the water dries up entirely and the oil is seen floating on the fried pepper. Be careful not to let it burn.
- Season with thyme, curry powder, salt to taste, and seasoning cubes. Leave to cook for another 2 to 5 minutes.
- Add washed rice and stir until it is well coated with the sauce. Add the chicken stock and cover it with a tight-fitting lid, then allow it to come to a boil.
- Reduce the heat after 3-5 minutes of boiling. to medium-low and steam until the rice is done.
- You can allow it burn a little to give it that smoky party jollof feel (this is optional).
- Turn off the heat and add the sliced tomato and onions, and stir together briefly.
- Cover it up immediately so that the heat remaining in the rice can steam up the vegetables.
- You can serve with Fried plantains, Vegetables and protein of choice.
TIP: When cooking Nigerian jollof rice, it is extremely important to build a flavour base. Don’t be in a hurry to toss your ingredients and spices in the pot. Try as much as possible to follow all the steps properly.