Early in the week, whilst I was doing some research for work (honestly I was), I stumbled on The Best Jollof Rice Competition held in Brixton, London today. It the UKs first ever Jollof competition, in past there have been Best Rum Cake. Its hosted by The Afrikan Family Works. I love these grassroots community spirited competitions. I thought I would compete virtually with my vegan Jollof variation, but I sincerely wish the hosts and the participants the best and hope the event is a success.
For those of you unfamiliar with Jollof. Jollof rice or Benachin which means 'one pot' originates in Senegal. Jollof is eaten all across West Africa and has recently become appreciated alongside the South Indian Pilaf and the Spanish Paella.
So here it is my vegan Jollof rice. I added peppers, okra and chickpeas to the Jollof rice only because I didn't have an accompaniment with it. I am no expert at making Jollof, in fact this is my first time and I adapted and combined two different recipes, so I hope my blog readers of African descent will approve, or point me in the right direction, just please don't be mean.
As a person of South Asian heritage who has seen so many much loved curry and dal recipes completely changed that they are no longer recognisable as curries or dals, I completely understand the reaction to this version of Jollof and I would agree we should not allow that version to become the official one just because it rates high in page rankings due to its celebrity association; and should respect it origins and roots. Just think about it.
The recipe will feed up to six greedy people for sure, so we have eaten some today and will reheat tomorrow for our evening supper and some to spare. Although I have written two Scotch Bonnets in the recipe instructions, I should be honest and point out that there is only one whole Scotch Bonnet in this pot, you can keep the seeds in it if you wish, but I won't begrudge you if you do wish to remove them.
The prompt today from Vegan Mofo is favourite spice or herb, well it has to be coriander. For me it just lifts a dish. If you look closely at the Jollof, you will see that I have foolishly garnished this one pot meal with these fragrant herby greens, but the fact is coriander is not part of Jollof at all - you have been warned, don't do this.
For the stew tomato sauce
2- 3 cloves garlic,
2 inch fresh ginger, peeled
1 red pepper chopped
2 x 400g tinned tomatoes, whole
1 (or 2 if your brave) Scotch Bonnet, optional seeds removed
In a food processor, blitz these ingredients to a sauce. Set aside
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 tablespoons tomato paste
600ml vegetable stock
400g long grain rice (I used Basmati), rinse out the starch and leave to soak in cold clean water
1 red pepper, core removed and sliced
1 yellow pepper, core removed and sliced
2 bay leaves
80g - 100g okra, sliced through in half
1 x 400g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Salt for seasoning
In a wide pan with a fitted lid that has been wrapped in clean cloth (this will aid the steaming process), heat the oil, then stir in the onions and cook on medium heat until it begins to soften. then stir in spices. Then the tomato sauce and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes for the flavours to mingle, but also to dry out the excess liquid.
Then stir the tomato paste. Cook until the oil begins to come to the surface.
Now stir in the vegetable stock and bring to the boil for five minutes or so.
Tweak and adjust seasoning if necessary, then stir in the rice and the sliced peppers and the bay leaves. Put a tight fitting lid on it and leave it to cook on low heat for 20 minutes, do not disturb to stir during this time. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and scatter over the okra and the chickpeas. Put lid back on and allow to cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until the rice and veg are cooked.
Give it a good stir and serve immediately. Adapted and veganized from from Nigerian Food Recipes and this recipe mostly for the vegetable appeal. After finishing writing this blog post, I also found The Vegan Nigerian Jollof Rice if you want to check it out for comparison.