September 30, 2022

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Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

Why It Functions

  • The tomato combine is cooked twice, very first to soften the edge of the uncooked, tart vegetables, and then once again with seasoning to additional build the flavorful stew base that defines jollof.
  • Utilizing the suitable type of rice is crucial. In this situation, parboiled rice is a great selection, as it has the capability to soak up the flavourful, effectively-seasoned stew with no turning to mush. 
  • Cooking on small warmth will allow the rice to take in the sauce appropriately, prepare dinner evenly, and not burn up on the base stirring minimally ensures evenly cooked rice though holding the grains independent.

Cooking jollof rice, a seasoned, tomatoey rice dish, is a ceremony of passage for quite a few West Africans. For several many years, my own jollof game was shaky simply because I had confused its ubiquity with easiness. I had assumed it was straightforward to make simply just because I had eaten it usually, at just about every celebration, Sunday lunch, and all the things in amongst, and so failed to recognize how important particular recipe ways were being. I’d rush by way of earning the stew foundation with out producing adequate flavor, decide on the incorrect kind of rice, and be undisciplined about my cooking process. Some times I’d close up with a great pot and other days, not. I’ve learned considerably given that then, and now make continually delicious pots. My biggest suggestion: Sluggish-cooking the rice is one particular of the main keys to results.

Considering a good pot of jollof rice necessary little skill was not the only incorrect assumption I designed. I also assumed that it was Nigerian in origin, given that I grew up there and it was a mainstay of the table. But in 2009, when my curiosity in cooking constantly far better pots of jollof deepened, I commenced looking into West African meals and how they traveled the environment. It was then that I uncovered about the roots of this dish in the kingdom of Jolof, a historic 15th- to 18th-century point out in the Wolof-Senegambian location, on the southern edge of the Sahara far to the west of Nigeria. 

Serious Eats / Maureen Celestine


So how did jollof locate its way throughout the sub-Saharan coastline? According to James McCann in Stirring the Pot: A Heritage of African Cuisine, the Dyula ethnic team, famed merchants who recognized trade routes during the area hundreds of years ago, were being accountable for the dispersal of jollof south of the Sahara, taking it with them as they traveled. Today, each and every place in West Africa has a model of jollof, each and every reflecting its certain heritage and influences. Many regions outside of the African continent also have variations that discuss to how much it has distribute, notably through the transatlantic slave trade—Lowcountry crimson rice and New Orleans jambalaya in the American South are both equally descended from jollof rice. 

Jollof can just take quite a few unique names dependent on the region. In its birthplace of Senegal, it retains its Wolof names of thiéboudienne or ceebu jen, and in neighboring Gambia it goes by benachin. The men and women of Mali call it zaame or nsamé. In the rest of French-speaking West Africa—Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Ivory Coastline, Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin, and Togo—it’s identified as riz au gras (“riz gras” for brief). In English-speaking Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Nigeria, it is identified as jollof. 

There are also infinite shadings of variance from 1 model to the following. While Senegalese and Ghanaians go for versions of fragrant Jasmine rice, Nigerians like parboiled or converted types, these types of as Golden Sella basmati rice, which cooks a lot more swiftly and is much less susceptible to mushiness and clumping. In Nigeria, Caribbean-model curry powder, dried thyme, bay leaf, ginger, and garlic are prevalent seasoning elements. Contrast that with the popular Senegalese seasoning of rof, a refreshing parsley paste mixed with other aromatics and used in mix with fermented seafood. A Guinean pal of mine, meanwhile, provides fresh tamarind to her stew base.

Entire veggies like carrots, eggplant, cabbage, okra, white sweet potatoes, and potatoes attribute in thiéboudienne and other variations from French-speaking West Africa, but not in the Nigerian and Ghanaian versions. 

Critical Eats / Maureen Celestine


There are a number of information that do the job jointly to provide stellar jollof rice, which I would determine as rice that is stewed and seasoned to perfection, with an orange-pink colour and individual grains that are neither tricky nor mush jollof ought to not be creamy like risotto. To avert this end result, I stir only sometimes to aid the absorption of the sauce with out creating the creamy starchiness that significant stirring (a la risotto) results in. I also cook dinner it on small heat for the the greater part of the time. When the heat is as well high, the pot of rice will cook dinner unevenly and be at risk of burning at the base.  

Some browning on the base layer of rice is desirable, nonetheless. Jollof rice is ordinarily cooked on the stovetop or around firewood. Overseas, in the diaspora, several West Africans have explored and mastered oven-baked procedures, whilst many others have created use of rice cookers and InstantPots to occur up with even much more ways. When the outcomes are comparable, stovetop and firewood versions are the least difficult route to “party” jollof, a version that is defined by its smoky flavor and presence of “base pot,” the crispy, toasty layer of rice that kinds on (as the identify tends to make clear) the bottom of the pot, akin to Spanish socarrat. The immediate warmth from underneath is just what is wanted to develop that caramelized, roasty underlayer.

Jollof rice is not considered a side, but the main dish. It is normally paired with beef, hen, 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 variation of coleslaw. It might also be accompanied by moinmoin, a steamed dish created with skinned, pureed black-eyed beans wrapped in the moinmoin leaves that give it its name, or dodo—fried, ripe plantains. At minimum a person or extra of these accompaniments is thought of normal.