5 Tips for a perfect jollof rice
I am glad we all came together to make #worldJollofriceDay and #NationalJollofriceday a thing. There is no food as unifying yet as divisive for West Africans.
Getting jollof recipe down can be very tricky, but the great thing is that once you have it down, you are golden.
Those who know me well know that I don’t play with my Jollof. Even though I like to say that no two pots of Jollof are the same, there are some basic principles for the absolute best jollof rice. Here they are:
Always use equal parts rice and water; let steam do the work. Reason being that Jollof should be infused with steam, not boiled. The more you are able to infuse your rice without overcooking, the tastier it is. If you boil jollof on super high heat, it’s pretty much mixed rice and stew 🙁 . To ensure that the steam stays in the pot, I cover with foil then a tight fitting lead and cook on medium-low heat . People didn’t really understand when I first shared this tip in 2012, I am happy to see that it’s now the norm. Check out pictorial in my jollof recipe .
There are two major determining factors for jollof color. These are:
properly fried base and
tomato paste (purée) .
I use one heaped tablespoon of paste per 2 fresh tomatoes. If you don’t like canned paste, you can make it yourself or substitute paprika. I also do something which I call the paper towel test.
Cook / Texture
Texture of jollof is just as important as the taste. You never want the rice to turn to mush, yet you don’t want undercooked rice. If you are ever in a sticky situation, here are some tips:
1. Too Much Water But Good Texture
If there is too much water in your Jollof, but the texture is just right. Transfer the rice to a wider pot (if possible), increase the heat to maximum and leave UNCOVERED. The water will evaporate quickly.
2. Too Much Water and Soggy
3. Undercooked Rice
The unique taste of jollof comes from the cooking technique as well as basic seasonings and spices. General flavor profile of jollof has Bayleaf, tomato, onion, bouillon (maggi), curry, thyme and salt. I have seen very old West African cookbooks with unique ingredients like nutmeg. I also know some west African countries put ginger and garlic in theirs. It’s up to you to find the flavour pairing you enjoy the most, make sure the basics are included and build on those flavors. Also, do not be afraid to add more seasonings and spices after the rice is cooked, just make sure your rice is still hot when you do.
The jollof experience is often as important as what it’s paired with. Jollof is NEVER served alone. A perfectly paired plate of jollof should include two or more of the follow: