So to begin to unravel what we would consider the ‘secrets to cooking – World-Class, World-Conquering Jollof Rice …. Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients needed to make this happen ….
So first things first …. There are a few things we need to get right, to create the perfect African Rustic Rice Infusion we lovingly refer to as Jollof Rice
Your Ingredients …..
- The Rice,
- The Sauce,
- Type of Oil,
- Herbs & Spices,
- The Stock &
- The Cooking Pot! 🙂
So let’s start with …..The Rice
- Why is it important to be able to identify the ‘type’ of rice you need to cook the ‘type’ of Jollof Rice you want to cook?
- What type of Rice do we actually need, to enable us achieve a great tasting and textured dish of the ‘type of Jollof Rice you want to cook and how do we know which one to choose?
BTW & JUST SO YOU KNOW! – There are actually over 40,000 varieties of cultivated Rice in existence!
BTW & JUST SO YOU KNOW, again! – It is believed that Rice was first grown for food in Asia (India, China & Thailand) as long ago as 5000 years BC.
To understand how the type of Rice you use influences the outcome of your Jollof Rice – Let us look a little closer at this delightful little wonder-grain:
The Anatomy of a Rice Grain – Each grain of Rice consists of a number of layers
The Husk/Hull, the two interlocking halves which house and protect the grain. – This is almost always removed during milling.
The Bran, This is made up of many super thin layer, infused with fibre, Vitamins (B-Complex, to be exact) & fats. – This is the healthiest and most nutritious part of the grain, which if left intact produces a Rice we know today as – Brown Rice!
The Rice kernel, is the inner mass of the grain and consists mainly of starch – This is what is left over after the milling process to create – White Rice!
Finally, each grain has an Embryo or Grain (Germ)! – We all know what this part of the grain does! 🙂 – Yes, it is the reproductive part of the plant which if planted will grow into a new plant!
So out of the 40,000 different varieties or types of Rice … Which ones are the best for cooking up a world class Jollof Rice Dish?
Okay, so we know there are plenty types of Rice available, over 40,000 as we know … but we are just going to mention the 4 most popular type’s specific to cooking a 5 star Jollof Rice dish.
In my opinion the Number 1 choice for African Jollof Rice is:
The White Long Grain – This Rice is very refined, polished and is white in colour. The fact that the grains remain separated when it cooks makes it the best choice for most people. However, a nice sticky and Moorish Jollof Rice can also be attained using a different cooking style using this same Rice.
It is one of the easiest Rice to cook and a great choice to accompany spicy sauces or infuse with flavoursome herbs spices and seasonings. (The number 1 choice for cooking African/Nigerian Jollof Rice!).
There are 205 calories in 1 cup of cooked White Long Grain Rice – 2% fat, 89% carbs and 9% protein. A good source of folates & manganese.
Followed closely by:
Easy Cook Par-Boiled Basmati Rice – This is another type that is a cross between long grain and Basmati (as far as I am concerned, anyway) – An example of this type of Rice is Asli Golden and it has a golden highly polished look. Lightly fragranced and fluffy. This is also popular with Africans, Caribbean’s & Middle Easterners.
This is always my first choice when clients request for Basmati Jollof Rice, because it is easy and fast to cook and also absorbs the flavours of the sauce and spices very well. It always ends up looking and tasting Lush!
Basmati Rice – This Rice is normally very long, slender has a fragrant flavour and aroma. Basmati Rice can be White or Brown and is the Rice and is the preferred Rice used in Indian cuisine. Although the grains separate when cooked they are fluffier than ordinary white Rice.
(My preferred choice when catering for Asian/Indian events, and some Africans don’t mind either). A bit more difficult to cook as the grains are slender and more susceptible to over-cooking.
Pure Basmati Rice only grows in ONE place on earth – The foothill of the Himalayas! There are 191 calories in 1 cup of cooked Basmati Rice – 0.5 fat, 57.8% carbs and 6.1% protein.
A healthier option – Brown Long Grain Rice (Wholegrain Rice). This Rice has a nutty flavour and is nutritionally the most complete Rice available as it retains more vitamin, mineral and fibre content. Brown Rice takes longer to cook than white Rice and the cooked grains have a chewy texture
Brown Rice is helpful in the prevention of colon cancer, breast cancer, and leukaemia. This beneficial effect can be attributed to the presence of potent antioxidants and high fibre content in it. The fibre content present in brown Rice has the ability to bind itself to harmful cancer-causing toxins in the body. This prevents the toxins from attaching to the walls of the colon and helps eliminate them from the body.
So, now that we understand the types of Rice we have chose to cook Jollof Rice with. We now need to choose the type of Rice according to how you would like you Rice to look and taste.
If you would like a dish that features fluffy Rice with separated grains, rich and full flavoured – Go for the long Grain Rice using the same portion of Rice to sauce or liquid, bring to the boil and turn heat down until Rice is gently simmering, cook for about 25 min.
Basmati Jollof is and can be bit trickier to cook, you must identify a type of Rice you are familiar with, I chose and recommend Asli, it seems to be a cross between long grained and Basmati in my opinion, hence it is a bit more resistant and tolerant to cook than other Basmati types.
Perhaps you favour a stodgier, saucy but firm textured Rice? Although nowadays, modern Africa now prefer the fluffier textured Rice with separated grains and with slightly al-dente bite to it. Traditionally Jollof Rice is more stodgier, saucier and a bit mushy in it’s bite. While the grains of Rice still maintain their form, they are cooked in a rich thick sauce carefully infused with a well-balanced combination of spices and herbs and cooked over an open fire which slow chars the bottom of the Rice to give it it’s aromatic, smoky flavour. To get your Jollof Rice tasting this way, you would need a traditional pot called the ‘Agabri-Ojukwu’ (Nigerian Clay-Pot) – with the added intricacy of a well controlled wood-fuelled fire, to help infuse your Jollof with that smoky, barbecued almost burnt aromatic flavour that we all love.
The smoky flavour is one that is a bit difficult to recreate, as a controlled burn is usually necessary to create that balanced, rich smoky flavour. Traditionally, cooks would systematically remove wood from the fire or otherwise to maintain this control. There is a thin line between a burnt flavoured dish and a smoky one! If you are unable to perfectly achieve this, just stick to a clean but tasty flavour.
If you would like to be a bit more innovative and creative in your cooking, you could choose the healthy option, the Brown Whole grained Rice – you are looking at cooking a more risotto-like textured dish (Jollof-Risotto) – While it is uncommon to have a Jollof Rice dish incorporating a broth with creamy consistency, the rustic coarseness of the Brown Rice with an addition of assorted meats/seafood, vegetables and an infusion of African flavours and spices will make this a winner at any dinner party!! I will be showing you how to make this innovative dish later-on.
Now that we have explored the different Rice types, the next ingredient to explore would be the Sauce! This is the agent that binds your Jollof together the one that gives it that rich peppery flavour and unique aroma. Beware though … the flavour of your sauce can either make or break the dish. Join me on the journey to discover how to cook up the perfect Jollof Rice sauce!