Saturday, February 26, 2011

Weekend Cooking: Jollof rice

Grandma served the food. The amount she put on plates would have broken if people had not kept on hand underneath the whole time. There was jollof rice, fried fish, fresh fish, pepper soup, smoked fish, spicy stewed snails, barbecued plantain, banga soup, efo riro, roasted bush meat, cow tail, egusi and ogbono soup with eba.

This week I have been reading Christie Watson's Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away, which is a soon to be released novel set in Nigeria. The above paragraph is talking about all the food that is being served up as a wedding feast.**

When I reviewed Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie a few years ago, I mentioned that I feel something of a connection to the country due to the fact that my ex is Nigerian, and therefore my son has some Nigerian heritage. This feeling of connection is still there even though I havenever been to Nigeria and not being able to imagine a situation where I will be visiting there in the future, and also despite the fact that my ex has even less to do with his son than ever.

One thing that I never really did get my head around all that well was the food but as I read through Christie Watson's books I found myself feeling like I might want to eat some Nigerian food, or at least just have a little taste, for the first time in years.

Normally I don't have any real sense of nostalgia around this particular aspect of my life with the ex (or many other aspects either but that is a whole other post). I actually blame that on the quality of the cooks (the ex and all his mates who were all men of a certain age and I am not convinced that any of them were particularly good cooks) rather than the actual food that they were cooking. On one occasion when I ate a similar stew cooked by someone else it was actually really nice, and the last time I went to an international food market I did have some west African food and it was delicious, although a touch too spicy for me.

Another factor for not being really fond of the food was the way they used much more of an animal when they were cooking a stew than I ever would. I was never really sure what it was they were trying to make me eat and he knew that and would often try to give me bits that he knew would squick me out a bit. Apart from tomatoes in the stew there were very few vegetables at all except for okra which I found incredibly slimy, and then finally the fact that I wasn't really all that keen on the eba (powdered cassava) that was such a staple of the food. It kind of looked like mashed potato but was much stickier and much starchier. Often it was eaten with stew by scooping some of the eba into the fingers and then into the stew.

I didn't mind fried plantain, but the main dish that the ex did cook sometimes that I liked, and is mentioned in the above passage, was Jollof Rice and so I thought I would share a recipe for this for today's Weekend Cooking post. The hard thing was finding just one recipe because Jollof Rice does seem to be a pretty common dish through all of West African cuisine, not just in Nigeria.

I thought instead of adding a recipe, I would include a video of someone cooking Jollof Rice, but if you are interested in a recipe, then the recipe that accompanies the video can be found here. One thing that I should mention is that when we used to eat it, we often had it with chicken or some other kind of meat, or with boiled eggs chopped up and stirred through it, or both.

Who knows, maybe I will get brave and try and make some Jollof Rice myself at some point over the next few months.

 Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.

** This quote was taken from an e-galley and so may have changed when the final book is produced.**


  1. Great post and great video. I have a couple of African cookbooks, but I haven't cooked much from them. I've heard of Jollof rice but never made it. Since I'm a huge risotto lover, I bet I'd love this. And it's make a great emergency meal for me because I generally have all the ingredients on hand.

  2. My husband spent time in Africa as a child and loves the food. I'd like to make Jollof rice just to try. The book sounds very interesting.

  3. my, that looks tasty...although I must say the TWO scotch bonnet peppers give me pause.

    great her voice and how excited she gets while

  4. I don't think I've ever had African food. The way you describe it, I'm not keen either! :-)

    I had some really, really nice South African food, actually, but that doesn't sound anything like this.

  5. I'm glad you posted about international cuisine.I don't think I've ever tried any kind of African food. I need to change that!

  6. Thank you for posting about this book (I've got an arc lying around, now looking forward to it even more) and the video! I haven't had any African food before either *plans a trip to some recommended restaurants downtown*

  7. As you know i was brought up in Nigeria - and keep a look out for books by Nigerian authors - I am going to add this to my wish list.

    Read in a blurb that she was taken to Warri from Lagos - we spent most of our time in Lagos - but lived for a while in a place called Warri - am wondering if it is the same location? I have to read it to find out - was in the delta region!!!

  8. Sally, I had completely forgotten that you had told me before that you were brought up in Nigeria. It does sound like the same Warri. The author isn't actually Nigerian herself. She is married to a Nigerian man, and the voice felt pretty authentic

    Chinoiseries, I will be interested to hear what you think of it when you read it.

    Vasilly, it's always interesting to try out new things!

    Leeswammes, I did try to blame the cooks and not the cuisines. If you like your food spicy you might well like this.

    Caite, they do definitely like their food hot, as in spicy hot! I was just going to post the recipe but once I found the video I changed the post because she definitely comes across as very enthusiastic.

    Peaceful Reader , hopefully it would bring back good memories for him!

    Beth, I don't have any African cookbooks at all. There was a celbrity who bought out a couple of years ago and she was originally from Nigeria. I should see if I can find her book.

  9. I've never had African food. This rice sounds really good. Great video, too!

  10. Amy of Amy Reads is big on Nigerian literature, and over the course of the last several months, she has read some amazing stuff. Have you checked out her blog? I think you would really like it there!

  11. Zibilee, I am pretty sure I have her blog in my feed. I don't read it often enough though.

    Glad you enjoyed it Marie!