There’s an interesting story to go with this recipe. That story involves my friend, Oma. She’ll probably skin me alive when she reads this article but I go tell the story jor. So, two years ago, Oma came visiting. She was very pregnant and on the verge of rounding up her Master’s degree programme. One Saturday afternoon, she barged into my room.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Breathe in,” she demanded as she sat down on my bed.
“But I’ve been doing that all my life,” I replied.
“If you’ve done that today, you should know there’s something different about the air.”
“Babe, say what you want jor.”
“I want that party jollof rice,” she said.
“Oh!” I exclaimed with dawning comprehension. “The aroma no be here oh!”
She gave me a big smile and said, “Let’s go gerrit.”
“Eh?” I said looking at her like she had taken leave of her senses. “You and who?” I asked laughing.
But my friend was dead serious. When I realized this, I told her I didn’t know who was holding a party in my street. I had not been invited and going for door to door enquiry was not possible. Oma nodded and left the room. For my mind, matter don close. I walked into the living room about twenty minutes later, what did I see? My friend eating jollof rice. Would you believe that she traced the party venue and asked the caterer for food? To say I was shocked speechless is an understatement. Na that day, I fear belle.
Anyways, party jollof rice has three distinct qualities: a smoky taste that comes from the use of firewood, the oneness of grain and absolutely, the divine taste. All lovers of party jollof rice, gather here let me tell you how to prepare it.
4 cups rice
Nutmeg, curry and thyme
How to Cook
Rinse your rice in cold water and parboil. Use a sieve to drain the starchy water and rinse the rice in clean water. Keep it aside. Rinse the chicken. Spice with onions, curry, thyme, ginger and garlic, seasoning cubes and salt. I use ginger and garlic to spice chicken because I like the flavor it gives it. Cook on medium heat. When the chicken is tender, fry till it’s golden brown.
Blend fresh tomatoes, pepper, tatashe, shombo and onions together. Open the can tomatoes and mix with water to get a lighter consistency. Pour the blended puree in a pot and cook till the water in the tomato puree is dry. Add vegetable oil to the pot. Add chopped onions to the pot and the tin tomato puree. Fry at very low heat and stir at short intervals till the oil has completely separated from the tomato puree. Taste the fried tomato puree to make sure that the raw tomato taste is gone. If you’re cool with the taste, transfer the stew to a pot big enough to cook the party jollof rice.
Add the meat stock. Add curry, thyme, nutmeg, bay leaves, seasoning cube and salt to taste. Cover the pot to allow your stew to simmer for about fifteen minutes. Afterwards, add the drained parboiled rice. Let me quickly say that once the parboiled rice goes into the stew, the wooden spatula replaces the cooking spoon. Add water. The water level should be slightly above the level of the rice. Stir the food with the wooden spatula and taste it. If the taste is not to your satisfaction, adjust as necessary. Once you’re fine with the taste, use foil paper to seal the pot before covering with the lid. Cook on medium-low heat. It is the heat and not the huge fire that cooks the rice. Monitor the rice. When the water is about to dry, check if the rice is soft. If it is not soft enough, add water to it. If the rice is soft enough, stir in the butter and increase the heat. To get the full party jollof rice flavor, the rice has to burn. Burning enhances the taste. So, leave it a bit longer for it to start burning. Once you check and everything is to your satisfaction, turn off the heat and serve hot. Enjoy your meal.
Featured image source: eleanorajoku.com