Is it terrible that I am scared to make rice without the aide of my rice cooker? I've read all sorts of tips and tricks on how to make perfect rice on the stove top, but something always goes wrong. Inevitably, some rice will burn on the bottom and/or some of the rice won't be cooked all the way through. I don't understand how it can be so difficult.
So, you can understand my hesitation in trying Nigeria's national dish, "Jollof Rice." There is certainly no rice cooker involved. Scary. But, I found a beautiful and delicious-looking blog post from Ozoz at The Kitchen Butterfly. Better yet, she had included a recipe for chicken to accompany the rice. Huzzah!
I had to contact Ozoz for more explicit directions for the chicken, so I am going to incorporate those directions into the recipe. Ozoz told me that non-Nigerians tend to find the chicken very dry compared to what we're used to. I must've done something wrong, as my chicken turned out very juicy. But, perhaps that's not a bad thing for us non-Nigerians. :) Ozoz also notes in her recipe that the rice will probably stick to the bottom of the pan and burn (some rice-things never change), but Nigerians often eat that too, because it's flavorful. So, beware! The rice will stick and burn. Mine did.
Jollof Rice and Chicken (from The Kitchen Butterfly)
-2 tablespoons of coconut/vegetable oil/butter
-6 medium-sized fresh tomatoes/ a 400g tin of tomatoes
-3 medium sized onions (1 sliced thinly, 2 blended)
-½ or less of fresh chili pepper, to taste (**NOTE: I forgot to get two chiles, so I used 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne...it worked well)
-1 tablespoon tomato puree
-2 tablespoons curry powder
-2 teaspoons dried thyme
-1 stock cube (I used beef, as it was all I had on hand)
-2 3/4 cups (500g) uncooked long grain rice or basmati rice
-3 1/3 cups (800ml) water or stock (vegetable, chicken or meat)
-2 tablespoons butter
Optional – mixed herbs, shrimps (fresh or dried), meat chunks etc….
1. In a blender, blend tomatoes, 2 onions and chili pepper, till smooth. This will take about 2 minutes of pulsing in a blender.
2. In a large pan, heat oil and add the sliced onion; stir-fry for 1-2 minutes; add blended tomato mixture, tomato puree, curry, thyme and season with salt. Stir on medium heat for 10-12 minutes so the mix cooks and the raw taste of the tomatoes is gone.
3. If using, add water/stock. Stir well, season to taste and add rice. Stir again. Cover pan and bring to the boil.
4. When it comes up to the boil, add butter, stir again and turn down the heat – letting the rice steam for another 15-20 minutes, or till cooked (depending on how you like your rice). If rice is getting too dry, add some more stock or water, stir gently and leave to cook.
5. When it’s cooked, take off heat and remove the cover of the pot. Put a tea cloth over the top and leave till ready to serve.
-Serves: At *least* 8, if not 10-12. My god, there is so much rice.
-2 large onions (red or white), chopped
-2-3 cloves Garlic , without the skin
-Fresh yellow (or red) chili (1/2 a chili will be a little hot, so don’t use more than that if you’re not a chili fan, or omit it completely)
-Fresh/Dried Ginger (1 tsp, or to taste)
-Salt, to taste
-2-3 teaspoons dried Thyme
-2-3 tablespoons dried Curry powder
-Chicken seasoning – Aromat, or any other seasoning you like (Paprika, Turmeric etc) (**NOTE: I used 1 teaspoon paprika and about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of turmeric)
-Uncooked Chicken drumsticks/legs (1kg) (Chicken on the bone is far tastier!) (**NOTE: I used thighs, because in my head I mixed up 'thighs' and 'drumsticks.' Ah well.)
1. Blend Onions, garlic (and fresh ginger, chilies, if using) without water in a blender.
2. Do it in pulses and if it is difficult, open the blender and mix the contents with a spoon. When ready put onion mixture into a large bowl.
3. Add spices to onion mixture and mix well.
4. Add chicken to spice mixture, making sure chicken pieces are well coated. Then cover the bowl with the cover or Clingfilm and leave in the fridge to marinade for 24 hours.
5. When ready to cook, place chicken and all of marinade in a pan on medium to low-medium heat. Cover. Let chicken cook/steam for 15-20 minutes (The point is not to cook it through). Stir often when steaming to ensure it doesn’t burn. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450.
6. After 20 minutes is up, place chicken on a broiler pan and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked to desired doneness.
-Serves 4+, depending on how much chicken you used.
Verdict: I loved the Jollof Rice. It was thick and flavorful, and everything I hoped it would be. I was fine with the chicken, but wasn't overly impressed with it. I felt like not enough of the excellent marinade flavors carried over through the cooking process. However, I think that this would've been different with drumsticks, since it's easier to eat the skin and meat all at once.