Ah, jollof rice. The dish of champions and staple of any West African celebration. Growing up however, jollof was something that we had pretty much every week at home, my mum loved it and the comforting smell of tomatoes and spices regularly filled our kitchen, gently wafting upstairs into my bedroom encouraging me downstairs to investigate, plate and spoon in hand, the goings on in the kitchen.
Kitchens are so often referred to as the heart of the home, and ours was no exception. Even though it was small, everyone always headed straight there on getting home, whether it was to open the fridge and stare at the contents as if dinner would just magically appear, or secretly stealing some meat from the bubbling stew pot on the stove, our kitchen always felt welcoming. And more often than not, it’s where you would find me and my mum gossiping and cooking all kinds of dishes. Being from Nigeria, my mum cooked traditional dishes a lot, although she did have a big love of British classics like cottage pie and fish and chips!
This time with my mum is where my love of food and the joy that it can bring started. So today, I’m going to show you my mum’s version (well, the way I remember it anyway!) of jollof rice. It’s easy to make and great for feeding a crowd.
We would normally serve this with spiced roasted chicken or Nigerian meat stew and plantain. Or just enjoy it on its own!
For the puree
- 1 x red pepper – deseeded and diced
- 1 x small onion – roughly diced
- 4 x garlic cloves
- 2 x scotch bonnet peppers – deseeded and roughly sliced
- 1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
- Sunflower oil
For the rice
- 2 x medium onions – diced
- 4 x garlic cloves – finely sliced
- 1 x tbps tomato puree
- 1 x tps curry powder
- 5 x sprigs of thyme
- 2 x bay leaves
- 500ml x chicken stock (can be substituted for vegetable stock)
- 600g x basmati rice
- Salt and pepper to taste
Serves approx. 8
1: Add all the puree ingredients (except the oil) into the blender and blend to a puree.
2: Heat a drizzle of sunflower oil into a medium-sized pot on a medium to high heat, add purée and bring it to a boil before reducing the heat to a medium heat. Cover with a lid and simmer the puree for 20 minutes or until the puree has reduced by a third of its original size, then remove from the heat.
3: Heat approx. 125ml of sunflower oil in a large pot on medium heat, when the oil is hot add the chopped onions and fry until soft.
4: Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, add the tomato puree, curry powder – regularly stir until the curry powder is fragrant and the tomato puree has darkened.
5: Stir in the puree and bring to a simmer on a medium heat, then add the rice, thyme, bay leaves and season with salt and black pepper. Add the chicken stock and stir, then turn the heat down to a low heat and cover with the lid. Allow the rice to steam on a low heat for 40 minutes.
6: Remove the pot off the stove and allow it to sit for 20 minutes covered lid still on, then remove the lid. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves, then fluff the rice with a fork.