The Naija Series... Jollof!
As a true Nigerian, I love my Jollof rice and I am very weary of Nigerians that don't eat it other than for health reasons! No joke. It's such a staple! I can't begin to relate with anyone that was brought up in a Nigerian household that doesn't eat Jollof rice. I'll need some time to digest their aversion and then we'll need a few more encounters for me to really make my mind up about their character. lol
Imagine the scenario, you're having friends round for an independence day gathering and you prepare a table full of the typical Naija grub...Jollof, plantain, moin moin, spicy chicken etc and then someone arrives and announces that they don't enjoy Jollof rice!😳 I might have to excuse myself and drag the friend into the kitchen for a good heart to heart! lol
Story aside, Jollof is "bae" and there are a couple of key things to ensure you get a tasty result each time...a) make sure you use good quality rice, b) only use a wooden spoon when cooking or other wooden cooking implement, and c) don't whack the heat up too high.
The one nuisance thing for me with Jollof is how long it takes to cook! I love to have the crispy rice at the bottom of the pot but it can't be burnt because it kills the flavour for me. If you're like me and you need your Jollof rice available in under an hour, you'll love this 50 minute recipe I've shared. (I give the pot a good high heat blast for an additional 2 minutes for my rice to get a good crispy bottom that I can savour the next day - the only point where full heat is necessary). Nom nom nom!! Give it a try and share your thoughts! Just don't start with another #jollofgate this is a basic recipe
For those new to Nigerian food, the maggi and knorr cubes here aren't your run of the mill stock cubes, they're seasoning cubes typically used in Nigerian cooking but you can substitute with stock cubes if you can't find them. You'll need a blender, a medium sized pot, a wooden spoon, a sieve and a medium sized bowl.
50 Minute Jollof Rice
2 cups of easy-cook long grain rice (I used Uncle Ben's long grain)
2 cups warm water
1 pointy red pepper
1 1/2 medium onions
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 scotch bonnet chilli
4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 maggi or knorr cubes (if you can't get these seasoning cubes you can use 2 stock cubes)
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp mixed herbs (1/2 thyme, 1/4 oregano, 1/4 parsley if you don't have it)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
-Pour the rice into a sieve and rinse under a cold tap for at least 30seconds.
-Transfer the rice into the bowl and add the warm water to the rice then set aside.
-Deseed the pepper and chop into large chunks. Peel the onion and cut into 4 chunks.
-Empty the can of tomatoes into the blender and add the pepper, chilli and onion then blitz until you've got a smooth pepper sauce.
-Separate half a cup of the pepper sauce or you'll get soggy rice*.
-Heat the oil in the pot and add the remaining ingredients except the salt and pepper in the order listed, stirring with a wooden spoon. You'll want a dark sizzling paste before the next step.
-Turn the heat down to it's lowest setting then immediately add the pepper sauce. It should sizzle and spit then calm down to a simmer. Stir it all together with a wooden spoon and put the lid on before turning up to a medium heat.
-After the pepper sauce has been cooking for 5 minutes, pour the rice through a sieve and discard the water. Add the rice to the pepper sauce and stir until it's all submerged in the sauce. (If you're using a wide and shallow pot, you might be able to see the rice just peeking through the pepper.)
-Put the lid back on the pot and cook for 10 minutes, still on the medium heat. Have a quick look at the rice. It should have dried up a little bit.
-Turn the heat down to a low simmer and allow it to cook for a further 10 minutes. It should have dried up a little more and look sticky.
-Remove the lid and stir the rice, then cover the pot with foil and then put the lid back on. Squeeze the foil around the lid. This is to seal the steam in the rice and stop any moisture from escaping. This is key to getting fluffy yummy rice.
-Now is the best part. Leave the rice to cook for 15-20 minutes.
-Remove the lid and the foil and your rice should be ready. The type of rice you use and the quality of the rice are an important factor so you may need to leave it another 5minutes with a little more water which still gets your rice cooked in just under an hour.
-If like me you like your crispy rice at the bottom of the pot, now is the time to turn up the heat and give it another 2 minutes before taking the pot of the burner and setting aside ready to serve. If you don't need crispy rice, turn off the heat and serve. You're welcome!😁
*You can use it for some chicken wings or just fry it in half a tablespoon of olive oil for something different with nachos. Otherwise it'll keep in the fridge for 2 days or in the freezer for up to a month.