Saturday, November 01, 2014


A well-known international cooking expert (Jamie Oliver) has offended thousands of West Africans by trumpeting his version of something they all know and he, apparently, doesn't: Jollof rice.

His version seems to be rice with a fancy salsa mixed in.

No, I haven't seen the show. Or read his recipe. So I don't know the exact details on how or why his version deviates from all decency. And not being West African myself, my version is almost certainly wrong too.

Actually, I know that it's wrong. No crayfish. No party.
Just an excuse to have sardines in tomato sauce.


Two cups long grain rice.
Two cups chicken stock.
One small onion, chopped.
One can of tomatoes (more or less two cups).
One or two Scotch Bonnet chilies.
Four TBS tomato paste.
A bouillon cube.
One Tsp. dried shrimp powder.
One Tsp. salt.
Very generous pinches dried thyme and curry powder.
Small pinches nutmeg and dried ginger.
Small pinch cinnamon powder (optional).
A little minced fresh ginger (optional).

Lightly parboil the rice. Drain, rinse under cold water, set aside.
Empty the can of tomatoes into the blender, dump in the scotch bonnets, and whir smooth.

Add plenty of oil to a deep pot, saute the onion till translucent and beyond. Add the tomato and pepper puree, plus fresh ginger if using, stir to incorporate, and cook for about five minutes. Put in the tomato paste, crumble the bouillon cube into the pot, stir, and add the shrimp powder, salt, and pinched spices. Cook for another several minutes.
When the oil starts rising to the top, take nearly half of the resultant goo out of the pot and set it aside, but leave the onion fragments in. Add the stock to the pot, simmer a bit. Mix in the parboiled rice, and add water as needed so that there is liquid on top.
Put it on a low flame (use a heat-protector), and let the rice absorb the moisture for about fifteen minutes. When it's dry on top, mix in the reserved goo, and let it cook about five minutes longer.
It is done.

The reason why you remove some tomato stew when adding the rice is to decrease the chances of scorching and burning, and to allow a certain texture to develop in the grains.

Fried peanuts and hardboiled egg can be used to garnish if you find that necessary, but it's fine the way it is.


The tinned sardines in tomato sauce can be bought at almost any store that caters to the single man or the unwellfunded working family in San Francisco. If you want, just heat it up briefly and dump it on top, or mix it in for the last five minutes.

Have some peanut soup along with your meal, or a scoop of black-eye peas with spinach.
Also good: chicken pieces rubbed with paprika, cayenne, and garlic, roasted in the oven for about ten or fifteen minutes.
Remember to hold the chicken pieces over an open flame afterwards for a little scorching, as this adds inestimably to the flavour.

If you are a single man, reduce the recipe by three quarters. No, I don't know how you reduce one small onion..... maybe use a shallot?

You can also cook chicken pieces in the rice, just brown them a little first, and if this is meant as a main dish for a bunch of hungry people, increase the quantities of everything.


Now please note: if you customarily make your own sambal bawang goreng, you can make a version of shito. Use Scotch Bonnets instead of the usual chilies, add dried shrimp powder and a bit of a rich oily fish fried crispy, and use plenty of oil. Slowly fry till the moisture has gone and the mixture is a very dark hue indeed, almost black. Blend in a little tomato paste and or lime juice, simmer the moisture out again.

Make plenty, so that you can keep the remainder in the refrigerator for those days when you have to eat with your suburbanite colleagues.

Shito normally uses herring fried brown; as a person with a large Dutch element in my background, you can imagine that that renders me slightly aghast. Herring should never be pickled or fried. Just very lightely cured and eaten with a bit of chopped onion, and perhaps some fresh bread.
And possibly a shot of Genever from Schiedam.

Kindly note that ground coriander, parsley, precious little whole tomatoes on the vine, and bell pepper(!) were NOT harmed in this jollof rice recipe.
And lemon is not called for.
Enjoy your meal.
Eat well.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Arroz estilo Africana. Punto!

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