After obsessing over countless Jollof Rice recipes from African cooks on YouTube, I have arrived at this recipe which follows more of a Ghanian method. There is an ongoing culinary debate about how Jollof Rice is prepared between countries; for example Ghanian uses basmati rice and a has lighter, fluffier texture. Nigerian recipes use long grain rice, takes on a more gummy texture, and sometimes even adds yellow curry powder. Feel free to read up on the culinary debate for more insight, people even make videos about this ongoing culinary war. Anyone who knows my cooking understands that I typically love meat – which is contained in most of the traditional recipes I researched – so I though it would be best to hold the meat just this once.
Long-story short … instead of water, this is made in a tomato-based “stewed” blend of vegetables, aromatics, spices, and sometimes fish or meat stock if you prefer. As this rice cooks, it may seem as if everything has gone wrong and the rice will appear too dry, but do not worry. The key to this fluffy recipe is to not over-stir, have some patience, and let it rest for a good 20 minutes before serving. This recipe may not be easy (or quick), but it sure is worth it.
Note: this makes 6 cups of “stew” but you will only use 4 cups. Save the extra to use in other recipes.
• 1/8 cup coconut oil
• 1/8 cup canola oil
• 2 cups basmati rice 2 cups
• 10 -15 of garlic cloves, peeled
• 28-oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes (or crushed tomatoes)
• 1-2 scotch bonnet peppers (depending on your spicy tolerance)
• 1 red bell pepper
• 10 slices of ginger, peeled (about 3 inches)
• 1 bunch of scallions (about 6 stalks)
• 2 medium red onion (1 for stew 1 for sautéeing)
• 2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste
• 1 diced red onion
• 1 diced green pepper
• 1 bay leaf
• 3 sprigs of thyme
• 3 teaspoon of kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon of black pepper
• 1 teaspoon of coriander
• 1 teaspoon of allspice
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1 teaspoon white pepper
1. In a food processor or blender, combine the garlic, tomatoes scotch bonnet pepper, red bell pepper, ginger, scallions and one red onion. Process until the texture is smooth. Measure out 4 cups and set aside.
2. Over a medium-high flame, heat coconut oil and canola oil. Sauté the green pepper, red onion, thyme with the kosher salt until onion begin to brown slightly. Stir in tomato paste, black pepper, coriander allspice, smoked paprika, white pepper and bay leaf.
3. Stir in the 4 cups tomato “stew” mixture. Cook on high heat with the lid off until it turns a darker red in color, stirring occasionally – approximately 5 minutes.
4. Stir in rice until it’s mixed thoroughly. DO NOT over-stir.
5. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover with a fitting lid. After 10 minutes stir gently with a few upwards-lifting motions to distribute the heat evenly. It may look like a gummy mess, but do not worry. Put the cover back on for another 10 minutes.
6. After 20 minutes total turn the heat off and remove the lid. Let the rice rest for at least another 20 minutes with the lid ajar, it will continue cooking internally from its own steam. Give the rice a few gentle stirs occasionally to distribute the heat. Do not over-stir at this point. In fact, go do something else for a little while. Completely forget about it until you’re ready to eat.