Apr. 22, 2016

Cook Perfect Jollof Rice Every TIme!

Welcome back!

Jollof Rice is a delicious dish of rice and stew cooked together in one pot.  It is cooked with meat or fish, with or without vegetables.  Any of these ways is delicious - It’s just a matter of choice.  There are several variations to cooking this dish which makes it versatile. Every Ghanaian or West African cookbook you come across is likely to feature this recipe because it is like a signature dish for many West African countries including Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.  By the way, Jollof Rce was originally known as “Wolof Rice”, because it is believed to have originated from the Wolof Empire in Senegal and Gambia.

In Ghana, it is mostly eaten as an “occasion” dish served at weddings, parties, christenings and special times with other foods. It is excellent for a sit-down dinner party or a romantic dinner. I often hear non-Africans say that this dish is very spicy.  The answer to that is, it need not be.  I never cook it spicy.  Simply reduce the chilli and spice amounts to suit your palate and that should not alter the essence of the dish at all.  Jollof Rice is usually cooked by combining the stew with water and adding the raw rice.  This can be quite tricky as the water content has to be exact at this stage to cook the rice to perfection.  Adding more water during cooking can also reduce the flavour of the stew and spoil what could have been a beautiful dish.  Here is an uncommon and stress-free way to cook Jollof Rice where the stew and the rice are prepared separately and combined together afterwards in one pot.  This ensures that the final combination of cooked rice and cooked stew is perfect, so you have perfect Jollof Rice every time.  Try it and see the difference   Enjoy!

Difficulty and servings

Easy, generously serves 6

Preparation and Cooking times

Preparation time:  20 minutes: Cooking time:  40 minutes

For the rice, you will need

1kg rice, boiled (Basmati rice is best but any other long grain rice will do)

1tsp salt to taste

1tbsp oil

@600ml water, for boiling the rice depending on rice used, add more or less water

For the stew, you will need

100ml Cooking oil

1 large Onion, peeled and chopped

4 large cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped or a couple of sprinkles of garlic flakes

1 tsp Soya sauce

1 vegetable Stock cube, crumbled

½ tsp White pepper powder

½ tsp Black pepper powder

200g Tomato Paste

1tbs Curry Powder

½ tbs Dried Rosemary

250 ml Warm Water

2 large Cans of Tuna Chunks in oil, drained and warmed

 

Method:

  1. Boil the rice in a rice cooker following the manufacturer’s instructions.   Alternatively, rinse the rice and place in a deep non-stick pan. Add the salt and 1 tbs of oil, stir and boil in the water over medium heat for 15 minutes or until water is completely absorbed.  Simmer or lower heat until the kernels are nice and soft pressed between the thumb and the middle finger.  If kernels are still hard, add a bit more boiled water until they become soft but not soggy.  When ready, set aside.
  2. To make the stew, heat the oil in a deep frying pan or wok on medium heat. Add the chopped onion, the garlic, soya sauce, stock cube, powdered peppers and tomato paste. Add the curry powder and the rosemary.
  3. Next, add the warm water, stir and gently simmer for about 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more stock cube as necessary.  Continue cooking until the stock is reduced.
  4. Next, roughly divide both the stew and rice into quarters.  In another deep pan, combine a quarter of the rice with a quarter of the stew and pour into a large non-stick pan. Repeat the process for the rest until it is all combined. Warm through on low-medium heat for about 5 minutes or until piping hot and serve on its own, with a salad of your choice or as part of a meal. 

Monica’s Tip

This version is vegetarian. The beauty is that the tuna (or meat of choice) is separate and added  if requested. Alternatively, serve with pan-fried baby spinach with a knob of butter and a hint of freshly grated nutmeg.

Please note the stew will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks and can be kept in the freezer for much longer. Also note that you can double the amount of stew and put half away in the fridge for next time when you just boil the rice and mix.  Saves you a lot of time!