Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

Why It Is effective

  • The tomato blend is cooked two times, 1st to soften the edge of the uncooked, tart veggies, and then all over again with seasoning to further produce the flavorful stew foundation that defines jollof.
  • Employing the right form of rice is essential. In this case, parboiled rice is a terrific selection, as it has the capability to take in the flavourful, very well-seasoned stew with no turning to mush. 
  • Cooking on small warmth lets the rice to soak up the sauce effectively, cook dinner evenly, and not burn on the base stirring minimally guarantees evenly cooked rice although maintaining the grains independent.

Cooking jollof rice, a seasoned, tomatoey rice dish, is a ceremony of passage for many West Africans. For several yrs, my have jollof recreation was shaky due to the fact I had confused its ubiquity with easiness. I had assumed it was simple to make simply just since I had eaten it often, at every single occasion, Sunday lunch, and everything in in between, and so did not value how critical specified recipe techniques were. I would hurry as a result of making the stew foundation with no establishing more than enough taste, pick the erroneous sort of rice, and be undisciplined about my cooking technique. Some times I’d close up with a excellent pot and other times, not. I have acquired much considering the fact that then, and now make continuously delightful pots. My largest idea: Slow-cooking the rice is one particular of the principal keys to results.

Pondering a fantastic pot of jollof rice required very little ability wasn’t the only incorrect assumption I manufactured. I also assumed that it was Nigerian in origin, presented that I grew up there and it was a mainstay of the table. But in 2009, when my desire in cooking continuously superior pots of jollof deepened, I started investigating West African meals and how they traveled the entire world. It was then that I realized about the roots of this dish in the kingdom of Jolof, a historic 15th- to 18th-century condition in the Wolof-Senegambian region, on the southern edge of the Sahara much to the west of Nigeria. 

Serious Eats / Maureen Celestine

So how did jollof discover its way across the sub-Saharan coast? According to James McCann in Stirring the Pot: A Historical past of African Delicacies, the Dyula ethnic group, famed retailers who proven trade routes all over the region centuries back, had been responsible for the dispersal of jollof south of the Sahara, getting it with them as they traveled. Now, each individual state in West Africa has a edition of jollof, each and every reflecting its particular record and influences. Numerous locations over and above the African continent also have variations that talk to how much it has distribute, particularly via the transatlantic slave trade—Lowcountry purple rice and New Orleans jambalaya in the American South are the two descended from jollof rice. 

Jollof can just take a lot of unique names depending on the area. In its birthplace of Senegal, it retains its Wolof names of thiéboudienne or ceebu jen, and in neighboring Gambia it goes by benachin. The people of Mali connect with it zaame or nsamé. In the rest of French-talking West Africa—Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Ivory Coastline, Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin, and Togo—it’s called riz au gras (“riz gras” for shorter). In English-speaking Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Nigeria, it is called jollof. 

There are also countless shadings of difference from 1 edition to the subsequent. While Senegalese and Ghanaians go for types of aromatic Jasmine rice, Nigerians like parboiled or transformed types, this kind of as Golden Sella basmati rice, which cooks much more quickly and is fewer prone to mushiness and clumping. In Nigeria, Caribbean-fashion curry powder, dried thyme, bay leaf, ginger, and garlic are frequent seasoning components. Distinction that with the common Senegalese seasoning of rof, a refreshing parsley paste blended with other aromatics and employed in mix with fermented seafood. A Guinean friend of mine, meanwhile, adds clean tamarind to her stew foundation.

Full vegetables like carrots, eggplant, cabbage, okra, white sweet potatoes, and potatoes characteristic in thiéboudienne and other variations from French-talking West Africa, but not in the Nigerian and Ghanaian versions. 

Severe Eats / Maureen Celestine

There are a number of details that perform together to produce stellar jollof rice, which I would define as rice that’s stewed and seasoned to perfection, with an orange-purple colour and independent grains that are neither tough nor mush jollof really should not be creamy like risotto. To avert this outcome, I stir only once in a while to facilitate the absorption of the sauce devoid of producing the creamy starchiness that significant stirring (a la risotto) generates. I also prepare dinner it on minimal warmth for the majority of the time. When the heat is too high, the pot of rice will cook dinner unevenly and be at danger of burning at the foundation.  

Some browning on the bottom layer of rice is attractive, having said that. Jollof rice is usually cooked on the stovetop or in excess of firewood. Abroad, in the diaspora, many West Africans have explored and mastered oven-baked solutions, though other individuals have created use of rice cookers and InstantPots to arrive up with even far more techniques. Even though the results are similar, stovetop and firewood versions are the least difficult route to “celebration” jollof, a edition that is defined by its smoky flavor and existence of “bottom pot,” the crispy, toasty layer of rice that kinds on (as the name will make obvious) the base of the pot, akin to Spanish socarrat. The immediate heat from underneath is just what is necessary to produce that caramelized, roasty underlayer.

Jollof rice is not regarded a aspect, but the major dish. It is generally paired with beef, rooster, goat, and fish (fried, grilled, or stewed), or eggs (boiled, fried, or scrambled). In Nigeria, it is served with a salad that resembles an amped-up edition of coleslaw. It may also be accompanied by moinmoin, a steamed dish produced with skinned, pureed black-eyed beans wrapped in the moinmoin leaves that give it its name, or dodo—fried, ripe plantains. At least one particular or a lot more of these accompaniments is viewed as normal.