Nigerian Jollof Rice
Featured Image: Ev’s Eats
Nigerian jollof rice is a staple for Nigerian culture, and it is popular all over the world. Growing up in American with Nigerian born parents, it was difficult for me to connect with my Nigerian culture on certain levels. Around the age of 10, my mother started to let my older sister and I help her in the kitchen either making food for our family or for events. This allowed me at a younger age to make a connection with my Nigerian culture in a new way. Culture allows people to feel like part of a community, and Bell hooks mentions, “ a positive understanding of what it means to know a cultural belonging, that cultural legacy handed down to me by my ancestors ” (13). This means a person’s culture allows them to feel connected to family they probably had never heard of or encountered before. Now as I look at my young life, I cannot even imagine how much Nigerian jollof rice I have consumed. Its recipe is a classic and easy for even beginners to make. There are few limitations for me when I look to make this dish for my family. The main ingredients are rice, a tomato-based stew, and spices. These all sound pretty sustainable, and you can argue that there are some ways this recipe could become even more three E friendly.
Even though Nigerian jollof rice has few harmful ingredients, there are still changes that can be made for it to become even more sustainable. Most ingredients for this recipe are spices that are sold for usually under four dollars with some exceptions, but it is really easier to buy all the ingredients for Nigerian jollof in bulk because then it is not as expensive. Furthermore for the everyday individual, the ingredients for Nigerian jollof rice are mostly accessible. When purchasing the ingredients for this dish, there is no need to use name brand products. Typically, my mom purchases the store brand, so that allows this recipe to be more consumer friendly.There are a few special ingredients that can be bought at various African stores, but only Nigerians usually know about this. For my family personally, the closest African store is at least a thirty minute drive which is a major inconvenience, and I cannot even imagine the walking time. Also, my recipe could be considered healthy because of the spices and vegetable base that it contains. When we visited Publix, I immediately went to the spices aisle because they are such an important aspect to this recipe. On the other hand, if you look at the environmental aspect, then my recipe is sustainable. The use of vegetable oil and rice provide a solid base for the meal with little glaring concerns about the environment. The processing of tomatoes that would allow for making the recipe to be more convenient causes some issues. The three E’s of sustainability are evident in the ingredients and the in the making of Nigerian Jollof Rice.
When it comes to my recipe, I would make some small changes to make it more sustainable. One subtle change I would make is using fresh roma tomatoes instead of the large tin cans with already diced tomatoes. Also, using an unsalted vegetable stock instead of the cooking chicken stock will benefit the consumer and the environment. All in all, I would make very few changes to the recipe because it is a good example of how a staple for a culture is sustainable without changing its identity.
Looking back, I would never imagine myself examining Nigerian jollof rice and its contents in an effort to make it more sustainable. I know that my childhood and future adult life has been shaped by this dish in more ways than I can even consider right now. After examining the sustainable aspects, I am even more excited to prepare this dish knowing its positive and few negative benefits. I am grateful to my mother for allowing me to develop my roots in my Nigerian culture at a fairly young age. Overall, it is very exciting to discover aspects of sustainability and overall future betterment in a simple dish with great meaning to me, my family, and my Nigerian culture.
Portion: Family-size pot
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hr 30 min
4 cups uncooked long-grain rice (not basmati)
6 cups stock (vegetable, chicken, or beef) or water, divided
2 400-gram tin of tomatoes
6 fresh, red poblano peppers (or 4 large red bell peppers), seeds discarded
3 medium-sized red onions (1 sliced thinly, 2 roughly chopped), divided
3 Scotch bonnet peppers to taste
⅓ cup oil (vegetable/ canola/coconut, not olive oil)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon (heaping) dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
3 dashes Salt, to taste
5 chicken bouillon cubes
4 cups uncooked long-grain rice (not basmati)
6 cups unsalted vegetable stock
6 medium-sized fresh roma tomatoes
4 large red bell peppers
3 medium-sized red onions
3 scotch bonnet peppers
⅓ cup vegetable oil
2 cans of tomato paste
1 heaping teaspoon of dried thyme
4 dried bay leaves
3 dashes of iodine salt
5 chicken bouillon cubes
1. Rinse the rice to get rid of some starch then parboil: Bring the rice to a boil with 2 cups of the stock (or water) then cook on medium heat, covered, about 12 to 15 minutes. Rice will still be hard, a bit “white” (not translucent) and only partly cooked. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. In a blender, combine tomatoes, red poblano (or bell) peppers, chopped onions, and chile pepper; blend till smooth, about a minute or two. You should have roughly 4 cups of blended mix.
3. In a large pan, heat oil and add sliced onion. Season with a pinch of salt, stir-fry for a minute or two, then add the tomato paste, dried thyme and bay leaves. Stir for another 2 minutes. Add the blended tomato-pepper-chile mixture, stir, and set on medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes so the mix cooks and the raw taste of the tomatoes is gone. You might feel your eyes sting with onions.
4. Add 2 cups of the stock to the cooked tomato sauce, 1 teaspoon of butter, and then add the parboiled rice. Stir, cover with a double piece of foil/ baking or parchment paper and put a lid on the pan. This will seal in the steam and lock in the flavour. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Stir again, adjust seasoning to taste, then add the remaining 1 cup of stock. Stir, cover with foil/ baking or parchment paper and let cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning and till the rice is cooked and the grains are separate.
5. Don’t be afraid to add some more stock or water—by the half-cup, stirring gently—if you find it a bit hard. When it’s cooked, take off heat and remove the cover of the pot. Put a tea cloth over the top and leave for half an hour or more, till ready to serve.
Additional Instructions for Parties:
6. To make Party Rice, you’ll need one more step. Now Party Rice is essentially Smoky Jollof Rice, traditionally cooked over an open fire. However, you can achieve the same results on the stove top. Here’s how: Once the rice is cooked, turn up the heat with the lid on and leave to “burn” for 3 to 5 minutes. You’ll hear the rice crackled and snap and it will smell toasted. Turn off the heat and leave with the lid on to “rest” till ready to serve. The longer the lid stays on, the smokier. Let the party begin!
Adeniyi , Esther. “Nigerian Party Jollof Rice.” Nigerian Party Jollof Rice, 2017, estheradeniyi.com/nigerian-party-jollof-rice-step-by-step/.
hooks, bell. Belonging: A Culture of Place. 1990, Routledge, New York.
Nigeria, Information. “Nigeria Is the Best Country in the Whole World.” Nigeria Is the Best Country in the Whole World, 2018, www.informationng.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/nigeria-is-the-best-country-in-the-whole-world-see-reasons.png.