Smokey jollof rice. Party jollof rice.. Bottom pot jollof…
If you have ever eaten authentic jollof rice served at Nigerian owambe, you know what this jollof recipe is about. Sooooo, there is a popular opinion that only jollof rice made from firewood cooking yields excellent result. This recipe will show you how to debunk that myth in the comfort of your home.
I have heard over the years how many people love to eat ‘bottom pot’ of jollof rice; if you are one of those who enjoy it- don’t you come after me, don’t judge me. It is a popular bias that has brought me to wonder. For me, if this ‘bottom jollof’ is black burnt rice; it is going in the bin. I do not need half cup of my rice burnt and stuck to the bottom of my pot to enjoy smokey party jollof; a little goes a longway. The smokey flavour is not only created by the slight burn at the bottom of the pot; it is a combination of deliberate preparation. This recipe shows you how to make smokey jollof rice with minimal burns.
Rice: add boiling water to cover the raw rice; leave rice covered for about 15-20 minutes; then rinse with cold water. This ensures the rice cooks fast when added to the jollof sauce. I have used short grain, long grain and basmati rice- they all work fine in this recipe.
Blended pepper mix: use scotch bonnet(aka rodo), bell peppers, fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger; roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes. It gives that delicious smokey tasty flavour. When adding your roasted items to a blender, start with the tomatoes and add the other ingredients after; you would not need any additional water to blend your pepper mix. If for any reason you are unable to do this, make sure boil down any excess water you add to blend your pepper mix.
Tomato paste: mix tomato paste with 1cup water, 1 tsp thyme, 1 clove of garlic and a pinch of salt; boil till it thickens up again. This step is very important to eliminate that raw tomato paste taste; and eliminate burning while frying the jollof paste; the plan is to create the mild smokey burn gradually. My favourite tomato paste is ‘De Rica’.
Stock/water: a rich stock would mean you don’t have to add extra salt or seasoning after adding the rice to the sauce. the stock/water to cook the rice should not be too much; just enough to cover the rice; the rice has been presteamed so it would cook faster than raw rice. If the rice is not cooked through when the water dries; don’t add more water, just turn off the heat and leave it covered till rice is cooked through. The steam is enough to complete the cooking; I promise you.
Heat: cover the pot with foil before the cover and . This is to ensure that the heat is sealed in; steam is most important flavour in ensuring the rice is cooked to the perfect texture- excess water would in soggy rice. The result of well steamed rice would be give you delicious jollof grains; not mushy rice pudding.
This jollof recipe easily fills a 4.5litre tupperware- enough to go around for a big family. Store any leftover in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Rice 4cups
- Oil 1/3 cup
- Tomato paste 1cup
- Blended pepper mix 1cup
- Salt and seasoning to taste
- Meat stock 2 cups
- Onions 1 bulb (sliced)
In a large pot, heat up oil on medium high heat. Add thyme, curry, and half of the diced onions; fry for 2 minutes- stir intermittently. Stir in blended pepper mix and bay leaves to cook for 2 minutes before adding the pre-cooked tomato paste; cook for 10minutes. Add salt and seasoning to taste-stir intermittently. Jollof sauce is ready!
Ps: Jollof sauce is great for coating meat and fish to serve with the jollof rice.
Stir in the washed rice with a wooden spoon/spatula; ensure the white rice is well coated in the jollof sauce. Pour in the stock to combine with the rice; taste to adjust for seasoning. Seal the pot with foil, then cover with the lid. Cook on medium low heat for 25 minutes. Stir rice with wooden spoon/spatula; add remaining half of the onions and bell peppers for garnish- you can add in other vegetables like carrots or garden peas for garnish as well.
Ps: If the rice is completely cooked through; do not add more water or turn the heat back on. Simply cover immediately with foil and pot lid for another 15minutes. The residual heat in the pot is sufficient to soften the rice.
Serve your smokey hot jollof with delicious moinmoin, corned spinach, plantain, salad- or whatever your favourite side is.