Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

Why It Works

  • The tomato blend is cooked two times, 1st to soften the edge of the uncooked, tart vegetables, and then once more with seasoning to even further build the flavorful stew base that defines jollof.
  • Making use of the suitable sort of rice is essential. In this situation, parboiled rice is a great decision, as it has the ability to absorb the flavourful, properly-seasoned stew devoid of turning to mush. 
  • Cooking on small heat permits the rice to take in the sauce appropriately, cook dinner evenly, and not burn off on the bottom stirring minimally assures evenly cooked rice even though retaining the grains independent.

Cooking jollof rice, a seasoned, tomatoey rice dish, is a rite of passage for many West Africans. For quite a few many years, my individual jollof recreation was shaky mainly because I experienced confused its ubiquity with easiness. I had assumed it was effortless to make only due to the fact I had eaten it often, at every occasion, Sunday lunch, and almost everything in among, and so didn’t take pleasure in how vital specific recipe steps were being. I might hurry by way of creating the stew base without the need of establishing plenty of flavor, select the wrong kind of rice, and be undisciplined about my cooking method. Some times I’d finish up with a excellent pot and other times, not. I have uncovered a lot due to the fact then, and now make regularly delightful pots. My biggest suggestion: Gradual-cooking the rice is one of the primary keys to good results.

Wondering a very good pot of jollof rice essential very little talent was not the only incorrect assumption I created. I also assumed that it was Nigerian in origin, supplied that I grew up there and it was a mainstay of the desk. But in 2009, when my curiosity in cooking regularly greater pots of jollof deepened, I started looking into West African foodstuff and how they traveled the entire world. It was then that I acquired 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 considerably to the west of Nigeria. 

Severe Eats / Maureen Celestine

So how did jollof locate its way across the sub-Saharan coast? According to James McCann in Stirring the Pot: A Heritage of African Delicacies, the Dyula ethnic group, famed merchants who established trade routes throughout the location centuries back, had been dependable for the dispersal of jollof south of the Sahara, having it with them as they traveled. These days, every single place in West Africa has a model of jollof, each reflecting its unique record and influences. Quite a few areas outside of the African continent also have versions that converse to how considerably it has distribute, especially by using the transatlantic slave trade—Lowcountry pink rice and New Orleans jambalaya in the American South are both descended from jollof rice. 

Jollof can choose lots of different names dependent 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 individuals of Mali get in touch with it zaame or nsamé. In the relaxation of French-talking West Africa—Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin, and Togo—it’s called riz au gras (“riz gras” for short). In English-speaking Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Nigeria, it is known as jollof. 

There are also unlimited shadings of change from 1 model to the future. While Senegalese and Ghanaians go for kinds of aromatic Jasmine rice, Nigerians like parboiled or transformed kinds, these kinds of as Golden Sella basmati rice, which cooks much more immediately and is fewer susceptible to mushiness and clumping. In Nigeria, Caribbean-type curry powder, dried thyme, bay leaf, ginger, and garlic are prevalent seasoning ingredients. Contrast that with the well-liked Senegalese seasoning of rof, a refreshing parsley paste mixed with other aromatics and utilized in mixture with fermented seafood. A Guinean buddy of mine, meanwhile, adds contemporary tamarind to her stew base.

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

Critical Eats / Maureen Celestine

There are a quantity of information that function together to produce stellar jollof rice, which I would define as rice which is stewed and seasoned to perfection, with an orange-crimson shade and independent grains that are neither hard nor mush jollof should not be creamy like risotto. To avert this final result, I stir only often to facilitate the absorption of the sauce without building the creamy starchiness that heavy stirring (a la risotto) produces. I also prepare dinner it on small warmth for the majority of the time. When the heat is way too large, the pot of rice will prepare dinner unevenly and be at threat of burning at the base.  

Some browning on the bottom layer of rice is attractive, nevertheless. Jollof rice is customarily cooked on the stovetop or about firewood. Abroad, in the diaspora, numerous West Africans have explored and mastered oven-baked techniques, though many others have produced use of rice cookers and InstantPots to come up with even far more approaches. Though the outcomes are similar, stovetop and firewood versions are the least complicated route to “social gathering” jollof, a edition that is described by its smoky flavor and existence of “base pot,” the crispy, toasty layer of rice that varieties on (as the identify would make distinct) the bottom of the pot, akin to Spanish socarrat. The direct warmth from beneath is just what is actually necessary to make that caramelized, roasty underlayer.

Jollof rice is not viewed as a facet, but the primary dish. It is typically 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 may well also be accompanied by moinmoin, a steamed dish made with skinned, pureed black-eyed beans wrapped in the moinmoin leaves that give it its name, or dodo—fried, ripe plantains. At the very least 1 or a lot more of these accompaniments is deemed normal.