So, Christmas and Jollof are red on Jollof rice, like actually. I mean, there’s no Nigerian Christmas without Jollof, party or not. But…it doesn’t have to be all about rice. You can go down the Acha/Fonio or Pasta route. If you go for rice, you could do brown too. You might want to try Bulgur – a cracked wheat grain – whatever you decide, there are many options.
I’ll share the recipes soon but here are general guidelines. My big tip for Jollof? Make it ahead (minus the pasta version).
My big tip: I like to prepare my Jollof Rice and Acha Jollof the day before. I feel the flavours get time to meld and marry. On day 2 (Christmas Day), I heat it up slowly to activate ‘bottom pot’ mode.
This will save you time. The key to its success is to cook the rice fully the day/ night before. Once it’s cooled down, refrigerate.
Pasta behaves differently so I like to cook it on the day to keep it al dente/ avoid it turning mushy.
Gather the Essentials
Here’s a list of all the things I use to make my Jollof report 🙂
Make the sauce
I blend tomato sauce and then cook that down.
- 6 medium-sized fresh plum/Roma tomatoes, chopped, OR a 400-gram tin of tomatoes
- 6 fresh Tatashe or red poblano peppers (or 4 large red bell peppers), seeds discarded
- 3 medium-sized red onions (1 sliced thinly, 2 roughly chopped), divided
- 1 to 2 ccotch bonnet peppers (yellow is my favorite!), to taste
- 1/3 cup oil (vegetable/ canola/coconut, not olive oil)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons (Carribean/Jamaican-style) curry powder
- 1 teaspoon (heaping) dried thyme
- 2dried bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter (optional), divided
Step 1 – Prepare the Tomato Sauce
In a blender, combine tomatoes, onions, Tatashe, green pepper and chilies and 250 ml/ 1 cup of water – process till smooth.
On medium – low heat, cook the tomato mixture with tomato puree, curry powder, dried thyme and stock cubes for about ten (10) minutes. Add the oil and let cook for another 5 minutes on low – the sauce would have reduced by a quarter. Adjust seasoning with salt.
Prepare your stock
Prepare your main ingredient
Whatever main ingredient you decide to use will have peculiar cooking times, styles.
- For rice, you can cook from raw or par-cook for 5 – 10 minutes. First rinse the rice and set to cook in a large pot with water just up to top of the rice. Season with a pinch of salt- you don’t want to over season as both the tomato sauce and stock are seasoned. Cook for 10 minutes then take off the heat. If there’s any liquid, strain off and set aside.
- For pasta, I always par-cook for 3 – 5 minutes in boiling water, till it loses its translucence
- For Acha, I toast in a dry pan for 10 – 15 minutes before I cook
I generally start off with equal rations – 1 cup of tomato sauce to 1 cup of stock and 1 cup of main ingredient, then I adjust accordingly.
Low heat and gentle stirring will give you the best results. If you are using stock cubes – Maggi, etc, hold off on the salt as they already contain salt.
If you make it the day before, allow to cool then refrigerate.
Preparing to serve
I like to serve with sauteed greens, roast chicken and whatever else is handy 🙂
Recipes coming soon!