Thursday, March 06, 2008

Jollof Rice

I had been looking for an African dish to make for my next foodchain Sunday. Knowing almost nothing of the food of this continent I needed to approach an expert - so I asked Abi, a Nigerian woman who is in my french class, what her favourite dishes are. Instantly she said Jollof Rice! - then gave me a rough outline of what's required but not a recipe as she makes it the way her mother makes it and that's how she knows it is right.

So, as ever in these situations, google came to the rescue. Once I'd worked out how to spell it properly.
Jollof rice is a popular dish all over West Africa, with both Ghana and Nigeria laying claim to having been the original source, though the name comes from the ancient kingdom of the Wolof people of Senegal. It involves cooking rice with tomato paste and spices and adding meat and vegetables but not in any rigid way - whatever is to hand. The end result is always red. I went through a few sites and settled in the end on Congo Cookbook - partly because it is an interesting site and partly because the recipe given was very vague - many variations could be made from this one source.

This is the version I made last night - and it was really very good. Let me recommend it.

Jollof Rice

2 Tbspns oil for frying
One chicken, about 1.5 kg, jointed into 8
Two onions, finely chopped
Salt, black pepper,
1 tspn cayenne pepper
2 chilli, chopped
1 bay leaf,
Knob of ginger about two inches, finely sliced
800 ml water
400g tin tomatoes
1 green pepper, chopped into 2cm squares
½ cabbage, shredded into 1 cm ribbons
2 cups rice
3 tbspns tomato paste
Large bunch coriander, washed and finly chopped

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Stir-fry the chicken in the oil until it is browned on all sides. Season well. Remove the meat from the oil and set aside. Add the onions, the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, chopped chillies and ginger to the skillet and fry the mixture until the onions begin to become tender. Remove the onion mixture from the skillet and set aside with the meat.

In a large covered cooking pot, bring the water to a simmer. Add the chicken and onion mixture and the bay leaf, turn the heat down and cover.

In the same skillet used for the meat and onions, stir-fry the tomatoes and the cabbage and peppers. Continue frying the mixture until the vegetables are partly cooked, then add them to the meat, onions, and broth in the big pan.
Again in the same skillet, combine the rice and the tomato paste. Over low heat, stir until the rice is evenly coated with the tomato paste. The rice should end up a pink-orange color. Add the rice to the pan and stir gently.
Cover the pan and cook the mixture over a low heat until the rice is done and the vegetables are tender (maybe half an hour). Stir gently occasionally and check to see that the bottom of the pot does not become completely dry. Add warm water - a quarter cup at a time - as necessary to help rice cook.

When the rice is cooked, check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Stir through the chopped coriander and serve in big bowls.

It only took about 90 minutes to cook - definite possible for mid week. And it makes a huge pot of food - easily enough to feed six very generously. It was good for lunch next day and later for supper but I'm not really sure you could freeze it successfully. Best to get your friends round.


Andrew said...

Having cooked it under your direction at Food Chain this very morning, I can confirm that this Jollof Rice recipe is sensational.

It does feel weird to tip the browned meat and dried onions into simmering water, and to mix the dry rice with tomato puree before you cook it, but it was a triumph.

And don't forget Bron, if you need any Tupperware storage for your leftovers and lunches, or any fine utensils, I am the (Tupperware) Man!


Andrew said...

FRIED onions, not dried. I was thinking of Delia.