Be Calm and Eat Jollof
“What if I told you that Jollof rice is a state of mind?” As a Nigerian, “Jollof” is our state of mind. To a Nigerian, it means sweetness, happiness, joy 🙂
Jollof rice is said to have originated from the Wolof tribe in Senegal, it was once a great empire which was divided into parts of the Gambia.
Now in the whole of Africa, different countries celebrate this dish in their own way. Each country has their different technique with which they cook jollof rice. I have seen the Ghanian style and the Nigerian style which I have spent the year perfecting. There is this untold battle between Nigerians and Ghanaians on whose jollof rice is better. The Ghanians tend to have a softer and mushier ric; while the Nigerians enjoy their version steamed, a little dry and in single grains. I did taste some Ethiopian style jollof rice made with broken rice. It had the color and looked delicious, but it was mushy and had no maggi 🙁 No way!
I remember when Jamie Oliver made his version. There was the war of the jollofs with a hash tag #jollofgate. Poor guy was told off by both Nigerians and Ghanaians. As in Nigerians and Ghanaians united and fought the jollof fight. Or was it when Tesco made their adaptation and posted the recipe on their website? Someone said “no tomato in that rice!” lwkmd, you do not mess with our jollof rice.
When it comes to seasonings and ingredients for jollof rice, the basics are tomatoes, tomato paste, meats, spices such as; nutmeg, garlic and ginger. You may also add vegetables to your mix. The wahala Jamie caused was when he added parsley and no “maggi” to his adaptation. There was an uproar especially over the lack of maggi in his recipe. Like who does that? Poor guy 🙂
In every wedding and celebration in Nigeria, there is almost always Jollof rice on the menu. Nigerians do eat a lot of rice, we can eat rice at our homes and still go to a party the same day and eat jollof rice; especially when it comes to party jollof rice. Hey! There is nothing absolutely wrong with it!Some things you must get right when you want to cook jollof rice is getting the right kind of long grain rice and taking the time to fry it’s stew; then steaming the rice until you get the right consistency/bite. You can be a good cook, in fact you can be Chef Mario Batali, but if you do not know how to cook jollof rice; just “gerrout” of the kitchen and get the stepping.
I once visited a friend and his twin brother and I took some food with me. Among the bowls I took was a bowl of jollof rice. They could not wait to taste it and of course when they did, they gave me their seal of approval. Listen, it meant a lot to me. I was so relieved because Nigerians do not play with their jollof rice. I also recently made some for my uncles, but I first had to feed my ajebutters and their friends; whose parents are from Ghana and Ivory coast. They were so happy, “yumming” and “hmming” away while they ate and since then they never eat jollof rice from anyone else. I remember one of them said to me “aunty, I have some snacks in my snack pack, but I rather eat your jollof rice.” Hian see these children oh 🙂
Apart from being a state of mind, Jollof rice is likened to an amazing personality and a life style. We use languages like “jollof boy ” meaning a sweet boy or a sumptuous woman.
To my jollof rice, I add spices like ginger, cloves and garlic. Yes some will say it’s heresy, but you have got to try it to knock it. So here with all our different love and interpretation of Jollof rice, I dont see anyone, any tribe and any country as its sole owner. Na our food. Na we get am and you literally haven’t lived until you have had a bowl, so make some 🙂
Credit for images: google
Have a bowl 🙂
Recipe for Nigerian style jollof using Basmati rice(ordinarily, we use regular long grain, parboiled rice; which you just wash with some warm water until clear)
2 cups of basmati rice
2-3pieces of very red bell or pointy peppers(tatase)
3 habanero peppers
3 medium sized plum tomatoes
3tbsps tomato paste
½ cup cooking oil(coconut oil works)
1 tbsp. butter
1½ medium onions
1 garlic clove
meat stock or water
1-2 bay leaf
1tsp black pepper
1tsp white pepper
Plum tomatoes (sliced)
Ginger 1/2 inch
Nutmeg 1/4 tsp
Bring some water to a boil. Pour it over the rice and stir to let the water touch each grain of rice; then drain.
*Blend the peppers, tomatoes, 1onion and garlic. Pour the puree into a pot and steam until the water has dried up and you are left with a thick paste.
*Heat oil and butter then slice in the remaining half of the onion, saute until translucent. Add the bay leaves, thyme, cloves and curry. Stir to release it’s flavor. Pour in the tomato paste and the boiled fresh tomatoes and peppers. Stir and fry until the mix looks a litte dark and the oil has floated to the top. (the oil may seem a little much, please decant some of it to prevent a greasy rice). Pour in the drained rice and stir until each grain is coated with the fried tomato sauce. Pour in the meat stock to the same level as the rice and check for seasonings. Bring the pot to a boil. Cover with a grocery bag or foil wrapper and cover tightly. Reduce the heat and steam for about 10-15 minutes or until the water has dried out. Turn off the heat, stir in the garnishes and check for doneness. If the rice still has a little bite to it, (do not add water) cover with the bag and tight lid, so the heat in the pot could steam the rice.