Nigerian Nights - Week 1 - Jollof Rice - Nigeria

Welcome to week 1 of my Nigerian Nights series! In this series, I will be taking a culinary journey to Nigeria, my homeland and a country that holds a very special place in my heart for a variety of reasons. Nigeria is a case study in variety from it's variable landscape to its numerous languages, colorful culture and rich cuisine. Some of my favorite places include the bustling streets of Lagos Nigeria's commercial capital in the West with its modern restaurants, cafes and movie theatres to Abuja Nigeria's capital city in the North with it's modern architecture set in a backdrop of enormous granite rocks to quaint Calabar in the East with its colonial architecture surrounded by jungles teeming with wildlife. The vibrant nature of the Nigerian cuisine will open up your mind and the rich Nigerian inspired dishes will dazzle your taste buds. There are a plethora of ingredients used in the Nigerian kitchen reflecting the richness of the country's agricultural produce. Some ingredients are difficult to obtain outside of Nigeria so I will focus on dishes which can easily be prepared anywhere. This week I will be sharing the recipe for Jollof Rice, a rice dish which is popular all over the country and a staple at parties and other special occasions.

Jollof Rice

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 60 minutes

Total time: 70 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 cup brown rice

3 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1lb/16oz /454g whole peeled tomatoes

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon fresh or dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage)

¼ teaspoon allspice, ground

½ tablespoon habanero pepper, chopped finely

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup vegetable stock/broth

1 green onion, diced

½ green bell pepper (½ cup), diced

½ red bell pepper (½ cup), diced

½ yellow bell pepper (½ cup), diced

1 carrot, peeled and cut into circles

Salt to taste

Method

  • Rinse the rice with cold water for about 30 seconds

  • Place the rice and water in a medium saucepan and cook over high heat partially covered for about 15 minutes drain any remaining liquids, set aside

  • Place a saucepan over medium heat and fry the garlic for about 1 minute

  • Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, fresh or dried herbs, vegetable bouillons/stock cube, allspice, habanero pepper and black pepper and cook for 5 minutes

  • Add the boiled rice and vegetable stock/broth, then cook covered over medium-low heat for about 15 - 20 minutes or until most of the liquids have evaporated and there is just a little bit of fluid at the base of the saucepan

  • Add the onions, green onions, bell pepper, carrots and salt, then cook covered for 4 - 5 more minutes until all the liquids have evaporated

  • Place the rice in a pyrex dish or oven pan and cover with foil paper, then bake at 400°F/200°C for 15 minutes or until rice is tender

Serving suggestions: This dish is delicious with fried plantains, fried chicken and/or moimoi (bean cakes)!

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