Food musings: JOLLOF OR WHAT YOU WILL
Jollof rice is a household staple in many an African home. The flavor and style of delivery may differ from region to region depending on the palate predominant to the area. However, rumor has it that the Nigerian flavor is unparalleled. Even BBC’s own Jamie Oliver –a renowned British Chef- has been known to recreate this delicacy ‘European style’ and eventually produced a result so different from the original jollof, that it seemed almost Mediterranean. Social media erupted in outrage at this varied departure from the well known and much-loved Jollof recipe, that some even claimed that African ancestors would be turning in their graves at this travesty because according to them, Oliver had “slaughtered West African culture with his makeshift recipe”.
Most agree that an authentic recipe requires certain essential building blocks which include the following ingredients: Parboiled long/medium grain rice, tomato paste, whole tomatoes, a red capsicum, scotch bonnets, vegetable oil, stock, onion, thyme, ground crayfish and curry powder. But hold that thought… it may prove interesting to touch on the origin of this highly sought after food?
Jollof rice can supposedly be traced back to the Jolof (Djolof/Wollof) Empire once situated in the Senegambia (Senegal/Gambia region) also known as Benachin. Thiéboudienne, as the delicacy is fondly called in Senegal was rumored to have been a dish prepared with barley, fish and vegetables for only the most special guests. At the time, a Senegalese woman who ran out of barley due to a scarcity of the grain, decided to use rice instead and thus, Jollof Rice was born. The American Food and agriculture historian James C. McCann has claimed this theory was plausible based on the popularity of rice in the upper Niger valley.
Countries that make Jollof
They are mainly of the Western African region. Pay attention to the first country!
• Sierra Leone
• Ivory Coast
Here are ten (10) things, you may not know about Jollof Rice;
• The rice cuisine that is now called Jollof rice is originally from the Wolof tribe that’s cuts across the Gambia and Senegal.
• The rice cuisine is originally a fish-based recipe. But now, it’s normal to find Jollof rice as chicken garnished.
• The Wolof rice which is now called Jollof rice is not a morning meal. It’s an evening meal.
• The major ingredients for the meal are the tomato sauce. It gives rice to its redness.
• Many of us don’t know that palm oil and tea-bush leaves are also part of the ingredients used for the preparation of Jollof rice.
• There is a dance that is done in honor of the cuisine.
• The bottom of the Jollof rice pot is more delicious compared to the top and the burnt smoky taste and aroma makes it even more Jollof.
• Homemade Jollof is not as delicious as the party made Jollof rice because the latter is fully spiced with lots of condiments.
• Jollof rice is better eaten when hot, I mean steaming hot.
22nd August 2017 is World Jollof Rice Day. First celebrated in 2015 by an unknown originator, calls continue for the UN to make the day official since millions of people consume and love this unforgettable dish.
Ikokore, also known as Ifokore, is a Nigerian Yam Pottage dish made with Water Yam (Isu Ewura) instead of the usual white Yam. It is a pottage recipe from the Ijebu people of Ogun state, Nigeria. If you want to hook that Ijebu guy or girl, or you want to surprise your Ijebu parents or friends, make them Ikokore! Thank me later!
A tuber of Water yam
2 Cooking spoons
1 Shombo/Tatashe or 3 Tablespoons dry ground pepper (Atagungun)
1-2 Scotch Bonnet (Ata Rodo)
1-2 Smoked Fish (Eja Kika) or Shawa (Bonga fish) Shredded
(Optional) 1-2 Pieces Dried Fish (Panla) Shredded
(Optional) Cooked Meats
(Optional) 3 Tablespoons of grounded Crayfish1/2 Cup
Smoked Prawns (Optional) 1 Teaspoon of Ogiri Ijebu (Fermented Locust Beans)
Seasoning Cubes of your preferred stock cubes
Salt to taste
- Peel water yam, cut into smaller chunks and rinse with water
- Using a hand grater, grate the chunks of water yam into a smooth paste into a large bowl
- Sprinkle the water yam paste with salt and 1 seasoning cube, mix and set aside.
- Now to the next part.
- In a pot, boil water and add palm oil, add your pieces of meat and fishes and all the ‘‘obstacles’’ you like, add crayfish too and blended pepper add salt and stock cube and salt, just a bit. If you have stock, then you may not need to add salt and bouillon. Allow to boil.
- When it is boiling, take out the pieces of fish/meat. Prawn etc as many as you can, if you don’t do this, when the Ikokore is done cooking the pieces of fish/beef will be stuck at the bottom of the pot. (Ikokore Hack!)
- After taking out the fish and beef add a bit of stock cube and some salt to the grated water yam and mix it, because it is going to be in lumps you want it to have some taste.
- Start adding lumps of water yam to the boiling pot (if the water is hot enough the balls of water yam should float)
- Cover and allow to cook for about 10 minutes,
- Now add the pieces of fish/beef you took out earlier and sprinkle on some ground crayfish and chopped fresh peppers (ata rodo). This gives it a lot of flavor.
- Ps. you don’t need to mix the Ikokore when cooking at all. Just let it cook.
The Nigerian Egusi soup, prepared with melon seeds, is prepared by most tribes in Nigeria in many different ways. It is known as Miyan Gushi in Hausa, Ofe Egusi in Igbo and Efo Elegusi in Yoruba. Egusi soup is also one of the most popular soups, if not the most popular for all Nigerians and non-Nigerians that like Nigerian fufu recipes.
- 600g Egusi (Melon) grounded seeds
- 2 cooking spoons red palm oil
- Beef: Best cut with Ponmo( Cow skin) and Shaki (cow tripe)
- Fish: Dry Fish and Stock Fish
- 3 tablespoons ground crayfish
- Pepper and Salt (to taste)
- Vegetable: Nigerian pumpkin leaves, spinach or bitter leaves
- 3 small stock cubes
- 1 Ogiri Okpei (traditional locust bean seasoning: optional)
Before preparing the soup, soak the dry fish for about half an hour. If you are using the very tough stock fish, boil it for 20 minutes and leave in the pot with the hot water to soak for about an hour. If using the softer stock fish, you can just soak them in cool water till you can break them apart with your hands.
When the fish and stock fish are soft, debone and break them into size-able chunks.
Wash the vegetable to be used. Cut into tiny pieces.
Boil the shaki, stock fish and dry fish in 1 litre of water with the stock cubes till they are well done. First sign of a done shaki is that the cuts will start curling on itself.
Wash the beef and Ponmo to be used for the soup, add it to the pot and cook on medium heat till done.
This method produces a healthier egusi soup as there is no frying involved. It requires less oil too.
- In this method, as soon as the shaki, fish and meat are done, remove them from the stock (water used in cooking the meat and fish) and place in a different pot or plate.
- Add the ground egusi to the stock and stir. If the stock from cooking your meat and fish is not enough to give you a medium consistency, add some water to get the consistency of evaporated milk or a bit thicker. It will not be as smooth as evaporated milk though.
- Cover and cook till the egusi cakes. Stir and add a little bit more water. watch it closely so that it does not burn.
- Repeat step 3, adding only a small quantity of water at a time. After about 25 minutes, you will notice the clear egusi oil coming to the surface of the soup.
- Add the red palm oil and bitter leaves (if it is your choice of vegetable), pepper and salt to taste and cook for about 7 minutes. You know it is good to continue when the palm oil and egusi forms a good blend of light yellow color.
- Add the cooked meat,ponmo and fish. If using pumpkin leaves or any other soft vegetable, add it at this time and stir the soup.
- Add salt to your taste, stir and leave to simmer for 2 minutes maximum.
Turn off the heat. Leave to stand for about 5 minutes before serving.
The egusi soup is ready to be served with Garri (Eba), Semo, Amala, Cassava Fufu or Pounded Yam.