Ingredients: Rice, Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers and some Fat/Oil. After these come the spices and condiments which help to develop tastes and flavours. From my very varied experience of cooking, I would say that the key to preparing a delicious Jollof rice dish lies in the following:
* The use of good quality stock (chicken, beef of vegetable stock).
* To some extent the utensil used is also key (in terms of heat distribution during cooking which could mean that some part of the rice is burning while the other part is still uncooked).
Get these key things right and you are most certain to achieve an excellent result; a moreish tasting and flavourful dish with an aroma that just lingers on and on!
Below is my every-time recipe for Jollof rice (Nigerian style; I say that because the Ghanians and Senegalese have their own competing versions!). I would encourage you to try it and let me know how you get on. By all means, adjust the ingredients and put your own spin on it.....
2 cups (500g) easy cook basmati rice (Soak rice for about 10 minutes and rinse to remove excess starch. This will also reduce stickiness when cooked.)
4 large plum tomatoes or 1 can of plum tomatoes
1 large sweet red pepper, remove stalk & seeds
1 scotch bonnet (yellow), remove stalk & seeds (optional)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 teaspoons freshly milled or ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon of ground pimentos
A small piece of ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups of good quality chicken stock
1 medium size onion
3 serving spoons of butter (not margarine)
1 crayfish flavour seasoning cube or 1 tablespoon of ground crayfish (for that traditional taste) optional
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika to create the traditional smoky flavour (optional)
1 serving spoon vegetable oil
Freshly chopped chives (to garnish)
Salt to taste
Some hot water
What to do
Blend the tomatoes, pepper, scotch bonnet (if using) and onion in a liquidizer. Simultaneously, gently heat the oil in a large pot and add the fresh thyme, nutmeg, pimentos, garlic powder and curry powder. Allow the spices to infuse for about 2 minutes then pour the blend. Now add the chicken stock, one cup of hot water and bring to the boil. Pound the ginger, add and stir. Also add the tomato paste and allow to boil for 3-5 minutes under high heat.
Turn heat down and slowly introduce the washed rice, stir in. Add just enough hot water to cook the rice, cover pot first with a sheet of foil paper and then with the pot lid. Allow to steam for about 10 minutes.
Jollof rice is typically served with fried chicken and fried plantain. You can vary this by serving with stewed fish or meat and steamed vegetables or other exciting side dishes like moin-moin, mashed up beans or a nice crisp salad.
Vegetarian option: cook with vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Serve with steamed mixed vegetables.