Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jollof Rice ( Ghanaian )

This is the recipe for a yummy, finger-licking Jollof rice from Ghana. A lot of cultures have some kind of tomato rice dishes; in India we have the Tomato Pulao, the Spanish have the Paella, the Cajuns have the Jambalaya, the Mexican have the Spanish Red Rice and the Ghanaians have the Jollof.

Jollof is popular among many West African nations. It is essentially made of onions, garlic, tomatoes, tinned tomato paste and maggi cubes. Maggi cubes are an essential part of Ghanaian cooking. They give the dish the much needed spiciness. When I was in Ghana I remember that the maggi cubes contained MSG.  So if you grew up eating that you will want to add some MSG to your dish, this will definitely increase the umami level of the dish. This is however optional. I recently read this interesting article about MSG and its controversy.

In the version I made, I added some carrots and green beans, this also is optional. I have seen people adding green peas, cabbage and even okra. This is all up to you. Make this dish a couple of hours earlier and let it sit so as to let the flavors really meld together and then your Jollof will taste out of this world.

So go ahead and enjoy this dish from the lands where you will find music everywhere, where talking drums are used as school bells and for other announcements, where there are long stretches of beautiful beaches inviting you to relax and watch the fisherman set to sail at dawn, where luxurious Kente cloths are worn by various chiefs during traditional ceremonies, where libations are offered to ancestors to honor and remember them, where colorful coffins are made depicting the life of the decessed, where scary Juju men  can take away all your money or make you very rich ;o), where Tro Tros  are used to transport the masses to their destination in addition to giving them a bone rattling massage ;o), where the calabash  can either be a musical instrument or a bowl and last but not least where the people are nothing but kind, helpful and always smiling.

Jollof Rice ( Vegetarian )

  Serves 3-4


1 cups any long grain rice ( I used Basmati )
3 cups of vegetable stock ( if you do not have any, use water )
2 red onions, not-so-finely chopped
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 medium sized tomato
9-10 Thai red chilies ( In Ghana they use Scotch Bonnets, if you find these, use 4 red Scotch Bonnets ) ( I used red to maintain the red color of the dish , use green if you cannot find any red chilies )
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 inch ginger, roughly chopped
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 vegetable flavoured maggi cubes, crumbled
1 carrot, peeled and sliced diagonally
1 cup french beans, cut diagonally
2 tbsp peanut oil
salt, to taste
1 tsp MSG aka ajinimoto ( optional )

  • In a blender add one onion, tomato, the ginger, the garlic and the red chilies and blend to a fine paste.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil and add the chopped onions to it. Saute it till it turns translucent ( you do not have to brown it )
  • Add the tomato paste and the blended onion-tomato mixture. Saute this till the paste gets thick and the oil rises to the top.

  • Next add the crumbled maggi cubes, carrots, green beans, rice and water. Add the salt and  MSG now. Cover and let it cook on low heat. ( Tip : To know if you have added enough salt, taste the water after adding a little, if the water tastes well seasoned then the salt is fine )

  • Add more vegetable stock / water if need be. Remove from heat when the rice is fully cooked. Serve it along with a protein of your choice or have it as is....

I garnished it with chopped cilantro. I just couldn't resist myself, I love cilantro....

The addition of some vegetables makes it even more healthy for kids.

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