We are taking a different approach to the #jollofgate scandal….. by trying Jamie’s recipe step by step.
To be honest we can’t believe the uproar over the Jollof Rice recipe– it is clear that it is Jamie Oliver’s twist on West African Jollof Rice, he didn’t call it authentic jollof rice… don’t even think anyone really has the authentic Jollof rice recipe as with all recipes it has evolved and has passed down from generation to generation. Traditional Jollof uses palm oil and crayfish, the Senegalese add all sorts of meats and vegetables. Long grain rice is typically used but nowadays people use basmati for their jollof. At Dvees sometimes we cook ‘typical’ jollof which is long grain rice cooked in a tomato pepper base, sometimes we add coconut cream or add chargrilled roasted vegetables, with garlic prawns and smoked chicken.
We love contemporary Nigerian cuisine; our signature is ethnic cuisine with a twist. For example, our afrotea is the classic English afternoon tea with a West African twist, perhaps we should expect a backlash and lots of abominable comments from the English for daring to go there.
West African food is the least experienced in the world so if Jamie Oliver decides to put a twist on Jollof rice and publish his recipe…we are still perplexed as to why this is sacrilege but first let’s critically assess Jamie’s Jollof Rice recipe:
- 1 tsp ground coriander – [DVees: acceptable as just used to season the chicken]
- 1 tsp ground white pepper – [DVees: acceptable as just used to season chicken]
- 600g cherry tomatoes, on the vine – [DVees: not typical but used to garnish rice]
- A bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped, stalks finely chopped – [DVees: not typical. Parsley is a herb that is widely used as a garnish or used to flavor stews, vegetable, chicken, fish and meats dishes in Mediterranean and Middle eastern cuisine]
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve – [DVees: not typical at all. “Lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over”, for garnishing maybe, not sure we would be squeezing lemon juice over our beloved Jollof, possibly on the chicken :)]
- Garlic – we would typically use 1 clove or no garlic at all compared to the 6 cloves that is used in Jamie’s recipe.
- Onions – we would typically probably use 2 onions compared to the 4 onions that is used in Jamie’s recipe.
- Peppers – we would use double the amount of scotch bonnet peppers that Jamie uses and add a red bell pepper (tatashe).
- A key deviation is that he does not blend the vine-ripe tomatoes with the scotch bonnet chilli and onions which means that the rice is not cooked in a tomato pepper base and resembles Spanish tomato rice instead.
- Also Jollof rice is typically seasoned with salt, bay leaves, thyme and curry. And lots of stock cubes, we personally think West Africans need to wean themselves off stock cubes loaded with MSG however this is a story for another day.
Taste: The rice has a wonderful rich flavor. This is amazing considering that salt, ‘maggi’ or ‘Knorr’ stock cubes are not used to season the rice. The beautiful aroma and flavor are as a result of the lashings of garlic, onions, parsley stalks sautéed before the tomatoes and rice are added to be cooked in the saucepan. Cooking juices from the chicken and parsley leaves also add deep flavor.
Verdict: In essence there are two ingredients that are real imposters: parsley and lemon. The proportions of tomato, onions and garlic are atypical and the rice is not cooked in a tomato pepper base however it is an excellent twist to Jollof rice. It does not taste like typical Jollof, but it is what it is, a twist to West African jollof: a delightful version that tastes like fresh Garlic & Herb Tomato Rice & Chicken. West African food is rich, captivating, bursting with spice and flavor and alien to the rest of the world, Jamie’s recipe has triggered conversation…. so lets live and let live.
Our love affair with food has always been partial to contemporary Nigerian food hence our tag line ‘Shakara Cuisine’, which is probably why we are camp #indefenceofjamieoliver.
*Shakara Cuisine [sha-ka-ra]
- Elaborate and skilfully prepared ethnic cuisine with a modern twist.
We look forward to more food conversations with other Africans and the rest of the world.