Jollof Rice

60 mls cooking oil
1 onion
1 inch ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes (or 4 large ripe tomatoes)
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1 vegetable stock cube
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons of mixed herbs
2 cups of long grain rice (basmati or jasmine)
2 cups of boiling hot water

Wash the rice then soak it in some boiled water until ready to use.

In a large, heavy based pot, heat up the olive oil.

Finely chop the onion, garlic and ginger. Add them to the oil and fry until golden brown. This will take 6 to 8 minutes.

When the onions are golden brown, add the tomato puree followed by the canned tomatoes and allow to cook down into a sauce. Chop the scotch bonnet pepper and add it to the gravy. Tip: If you do not want much heat from the pepper but would still like the flavour, add the pepper whole and allow to infuse in the sauce.

Crumble the vegetable stock cube into the gravy and stir. Add the bay leaves and herbs. Allow the sauce or jollof stew base to simmer and cook on a medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Keep stirring to prevent burning.

5Once you notice oil rise to the top of the sauce, strain the soaked rice and add it to the pot. Top up with 500 mls (2 cups) of boiling water, you may need to use less water or top up if the rice is still hard. Bring to the boil, stir, then allow to steam on a low heat.

After about 7 to 9 minutes, when most of the moisture has been soaked up by the rice but it is still mildly soggy, cover it with parchment paper right above the rice followed by a lid and close tightly.

After 5 minutes, you need to stir with a 2 prong fork. I choose to use the 2 prong fork as it will not mash up the rice during stirring in the same way that a spoon would. Cover the jollof and after a further 10 minutes, stir a couple of times just to make sure the heat is distributed evenly.

Check if the rice has cooked. Serve with some oven roasted fish or chicken and a side of salad. Coleslaw works extremely well with jollof. For a vegetarian feast, try it with koose.

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