Ghanaian jollof rice is jam packed full of flavour. It’s spicy, full of heat and balanced perfectly with a flavour so disnict you instantly know it’s jollof.
PERFECTING MY GHANAIAN JOLLOF RICE
Do you know you know how long it has taken me to perfect my Ghanaian jollof rice recipe?
Lets just say about 10 years!
My husband is Ghanaian so when we first got together I wanted to show him how much I loved him by cooking something he loved as a kid. I chose joloff because growing up I too used to eat it whenever I went to a West African party and loved it. This was going to be the perfect surprise. I would fry a few plantains, make some spinach stew and boil some yams.
How hard would it be?
It’s only rice after all! Flavoured with a spicy tomato sauce.
I USED OLIVE OIL
Every recipe I made I followed to the ‘T’ but something wasn’t quite right. The flavour just missed what I remembered Ghanaian jollof rice tasting like and my rice was really clumpy. I just couldn’t work it out. Why wasn’t it working?
Over the years we would go to parties and would fill our plates up with joloff rice and always go up for seconds. I would stare at each rice grain and see it rain off of my spoon and on to my plate and wondered if I would ever be able to replicate this delicious Ghanaian joloff rice. I would show my husband and he would laugh because if it was my jollof rice a whole clump of rice would of fallen on to the plate ha….. ha….. ha…..
WHEN THINGS FINALLY CLICKED
A few weeks ago my husband asked me “are you following the recipe as it is?” I said “yeah” and then suggested we cook it together.
Straight away we worked out my mistake. Well my husband did. The recipe said to add vegetable oil. I went to get the olive oil. My husband said “why are you not using vegetable oil?” and as a true Greek I replied “I always use olive oil, it’s healthier”. He said “well there’s your problem right there. The two oils have different flavours and different consistencies that’s why you Ghanaian jollof rice doesn’t taste right.” I said “OK lets use vegetable oil and see.”
You know what I felt a little shame. My Ghanaian jollof rice actually tasted like jollof rice and all I had to do was be less Greek and follow the recipe and use vegetable oil (“,)
MISTAKE NUMBER 2
I DIDN’T WASH MY RICE
Now I had perfected my jollof rice’s flavour I had another problem. My rice was still sticking together and I wanted my rice to be like the party rice. Single grains raining off of my fork. Some people write recipes and don’t go into detail about each process. Not one recipe said to rinse my rice before I added it to my stew. I maybe wrong but I just assumed that if it didn’t say to wash it then I didn’t wash it.
When I make plain white or brown rice I always give it a rinse before I cook it. I just didn’t use my common sense for many years.
THERE’S TWO THINGS YOU CAN TAKE AWAY FROM MY EXPERIENCE
- Always wash your rice
- When you read a recipe if it goes against what you know, and what you know works, do it your way. But maybe give their way a go first just in case they know something you don’t.
WHAT DOES GHANAIAN JOLLOF TASTE LIKE?
This is a hard question to answer.
Ghanaian jollof rice is a rice cooked in a stew or flo in Ghanaian. The stew consists of sweetness from passata and tomato puree, heat from chilli and garlic. A heated fragrance comes from the ginger and curry powder gives a spicy sweet and savoury note to the rice.
As you can see Ghanaian jollof rice is jam packed full of flavour. It’s perfectly balanced and only when you try it you will truly understand it’s unique flavour. So if I haven’t sold you on making my Ghanaian jollof rice then here’s a reason. Try it, so you can experience this unique flavour and trust me you wont regret it because this rice is ‘All About The Flavour’.
GHANAIAN JOLLOF RICE ALTERNATIVE INGREDIENTS
When you make Ghanaian jollof rice you don’t have to stick to the recipe 100%. What I’m saying is you can experiment with different flavours and ingredients to suit your liking but stick to the techniques and process.
I’ve used dried chilli flakes in my recipe but you can substitute it for fresh chili’s or if you are feeling adventurous some ‘shito’. Shito is a Ghanaian sauce made from chili’s and dried shrimp. It is extremely ‘hot’ but full of flavour.
Again I’ve used another dried ingredient, dried ginger. I’ve used dried ginger to show you, you don’t need to go out and buy fresh ginger. But if you do want to use fresh ginger go ahead. It will give your jollof rice a light freshness.
Over the years I’ve made jollof many times and on a few occasions I’ve added fresh and frozen vegetables to my rice. Every time I’ve added veg my jollof rice has tasted too sweet. I’m not saying don’t add veg, I’m just giving you my opinion. The vegetables I’ve added have been peas, carrots, red peppers and sweetcorn.
The best tip I can give you is to eat your Ghanaian Jollof rice the next day, especially if you are making it for guests or a special occasion. It tastes so much better the next, why I don’t really know. But if you want to eat it on the day you make it just make extra so you can enjoy it on both days (“,)
MY ONLY PROBLEM
There is one thing I haven’t been able to overcome and that is my rice not sticking to the bottom of my pan. I’ve tried adding more water but it still sticks and the rice becomes mushy. I’ve tried stirring my rice every few minutes and it still sticks.
If you have a solution please let me know in the comments below (“,)
If you plan on making jollof regularly I’d suggest investing in a glass blender like this one. Or if you have a Kenwood chef stand mixer like me get the glass blender attachment. This is because the passata, tomato puree and curry powder will stain a plastic blender over time. Trust me I’ve experienced it. Plus if it’s glass you can put it in the dishwasher so there’s less washing up. It’s a win win in my books.
WHO MAKES JOLLOF RICE BETTER?
If you haven’t heard there is a big debate between Ghanaians and Nigerians about who makes jollof rice better. Well I’ve tasted both and I can honestly say that ‘I’ make it the best (“,)
- 100 ml vegetable oil
- 2 white onions (roughly chopped)
- 500 g passata
- 200 g tomato puree
- 3 chicken stock cubes
- 2 tbsp dried chili flakes (you can substitute with fresh chili or shito)
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp ground ginger (you can substitute with fresh ginger)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Salt (to your preference)
- 2 1/2 cups white basmati rice (rinsed)
- 2 1/2 cups water
- Blender or Food Processor
- Large Pot
- Measuring Spoons
- Spoon or Spatula
- Foil (to fit over the top of your pot)
Add your 2 chopped onions and 20ml of your vegetable oil to your blender and blitz until your onions are a smooth puree
Heat the rest of your oil (80ml) in your pan and add your onion puree. Stir it a little then leave it on the lowest heat to turn golden. It will take about 5 minutes but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn
Whilst your onions are caramelising add the rest of your ingredients to your blender (you don’t need to rinse it) and blitz until you have a smooth sauce
When your onions have turned a nice golden brown (see the video below) give them a stir then add your tomato sauce. Give everything a good mix then leave it to simmer on the lowest heat for 20 minutes. Make sure to stir your sauce every 5 minutes when the oil rises to the top. This is to stop your sauce sticking to the bottom of your pan
Add your 2 1/2 cups of rinsed basmati rice to your stew and stir it in well so all your rice grains are covered
Add in 2 1/2 cups of water and stir everything well. Then cover your pan with some foil and then the pan lid and leave it to simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes
When your rice is cooked fluff it up with a fork
Now it’s time to enjoy, so dig in (“,