There are various recipes for Jollof rice and they all depend on which Country you’re from though I’m only familiar with three variants. There’s the Senegalese which of course, Jollof rice originated from. There’s also a Ghanaian version which is in no way similar to the Nigerian version and then we have the ultimate version….Yes! the Nigerian version ( no disrespect to the people of Ghana and Senegal).
Its also tagged “party jollof rice” cos let’s face it, home-cooked Jollof rice hardly ever tastes like rice served at parties. Party jollof rice are usually very authentic in taste, richer and far more delicious compared with the everyday hob method.
There are three main methods of cooking party jollof rice; the hob, firewood and the oven method. The hob and oven methods are more common in these parts but the hob is a better method for cooking party Jollof rice.
Two ingredients I add to perfect the Party Jollof rice taste are butter and white pepper. I remember when we had parties back then and my mum would pay “Olopos” (caterers) to come cook, they always added butter and white pepper to Jollof rice, but these are ingredients I rarely see listed in Jollof rice recipes these days but they are absolutely necessary. The butter gives it a very rich taste and a lush consistency while the white pepper brings out the signature party jollof rice taste. You just need to try it to believe it.
I will not be parboiling my rice for this recipe. This recipe works just fine for parboiled rice though. Parboiling I find takes a lot away from the frying time which consequently takes a bit away from the perfect consistency in the end. Also, using raw rice helps to eliminate sogginess and gives it a more authentic taste (my opinion).
A common concern raised about Party Jollof rice is “how to achieve the perfect reddy/orangey colour”. It’s simple….. “tomato paste”. I don’t blend too much tomato to begin with, sometimes I do without tomato altogether, I just add lots of tomato paste, NOT enough to overpower the taste of the bell peppers used though. Using too much tomato paste gives Jollof rice a sharp, bordering on sour raw tomato taste.
Another mistake you don’t want to make while cooking Party Jollof rice is adding too much stew/water. It’s better to start off with a minimal amount and then add as you go than be faced with the strugge of decanting secreted stew when you finally realise you’ve added too much; half the time you’ll be paranoid and unnerved throughout the cooking process and you’re far more likely to end up with soggy Jollof rice in the end.
Always remember, “Jollof rice never thrives in chaotic atmospheres”
Anyway, enough of my talk (someone’s getting carried away), let’s cook.
4 Cups Easy Cook Rice
3 Large/ 4 Medium Red Bell Peppers (Tatashe)
1/2 Can of Plum Tomatoes/ 2 Medium Size Tomatoes
11/2 Scotch Bonnet (Ata Rodo)
2 cups Beef or Chicken Stock
120g Tomato Paste
100ml /6 Tablespoons Cooking oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Minced Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Curry powder and Thyme
1/2 Teaspoon any seasoning of your choosing
3 Knorr Chicken cubes
2 Teaspoons White pepper
3 Bay Leaves
1 Medium Size Tomato for Garnishing
Salt to Taste
First blend the red bell peppers, tomatoes, scotch bonnet and 1 onion to a smooth paste and set aside.
Add the cooking oil into a large pot, place on the hob on medium heat, add half sliced onion into it and let it fry till fragrant. Add the blended pepper, tomato paste, knorr cubes, curry powder, one teaspoon white pepper, bay leaves, cover and let it fry till oil begins to float to the top. This should take 15 to 20 minutes.
While that’s frying, wash your rice thoroughly to rid it of starch and set aside. If you’re choosing to parboil your rice, parboil for 5-8 minutes with little water on low heat. The rice should still be very firm and not soft, wash with warm water and set aside.
When oil floats to the top, add the chicken/ meat stock, cover and let it fry for a further 8-10 minutes.
Now add the washed rice…. (It’s better to transfer the rice into another big pot, then add the stew so you can control the amount of stew that goes in to avoid over adding. Combine thoroughly, ensure the stew is only about a cm over the rice when combined, it’s better to start with little liquid and add as you go)
When that’s fully combined, add the butter….the minced ginger, the remaining teaspoon of white pepper and combine. Cover and let it cook till the rice softens. Do stir every now and then with a WOODEN spoon; this prevents clumps and doesn’t break the rice up. Add little bits of stock or water as you go, be careful not to add too much. Jollof rice needs steam to cook and not water, don’t be alarmed if/when the rice begins to burn, it will definitely burn a little, this is what gives it the much loved smokey flavour.
When the rice is soft enough, add the onion rings and sliced tomato and stir. Onions and tomatoes should be added just a couple of minutes before final doneness. Combine thoroughly....switch off the heat and leave to steam with the residual heat for another minute or two and your Party Jollof Rice is ready.