Jollof rice is a Nigerian dish I’m sure every African has heard of or tasted at some point, especially if you have west African friends. It is mainly made in Togo, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia. When one is told what the ingredients of the dish are, it sounds very simple and something that probably wouldn’t take too long to make. However, for someone who hasn’t grown up making it (like myself) it’s simplicity makes it difficult.
There are many variations of Jollof rice but for the most basic recipe the ingredients are rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, onion, salt, and red pepper. Sounds like a breeze, no? Beyond that, nearly any kind of meat, vegetable, or spice can be added.
I used a recipe from nigerianfoodtv.com It was the most detailed I could find and had an accompanying video to help illustrate the recipe. I didn’t change anything as far as ingredients so I won’t rewrite the whole recipe here. However I will still share some of what I did in pictures.
For the full recipe, follow this link.
For a first attempt I would say I didn’t do too badly. The rice came out a bit mushy though and I think I will skip the parboiling stage next time in order to reduce the time the rice cooks therefore preventing the rice from overcooking.
The biggest challenge was getting the tomato soup right because that’s where the magic is.
I didn’t have a blender so I had to make the tomato soup on the stove. Normally one would blend the tomatoes and peppers then reduce the liquid on the stove before adding onions and spices.In the picture above is the tomato alone which I added some water to and simmered till it was mushy.
I then fried onions separately and added them to the soup. I also added a little tomato puree to help deepen the colour a little. I then added some stock which I left till it began boiling before adding the parboiled rice.The rice then simmered till all the liquid had been absorbed. And that was it! Doesn’t seem too complex does it? I think this process would be so much easier with a blender or better yet a tin of tomato soup, but what would be the fun in that?
Getting the flavor of the soup is important because your rice will take on that flavor so make sure you taste it constantly.
I force fed my family the mushy rice with chicken and spinach. Next time I make this I will enlist the help of a blender and use tomatoes that have a deep red colour, it annoyed me that the colour wasn’t a darker red. My mum found this to be a tad bit too spicy for her but everyone else didn’t mind.