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Jolly Rice - An Unapologetically Non-Authentic Jollof

Jollof rice, which is a West African dish very common in Ghana and Nigeria is the basis for a “merry war” between the two countries on who makes the best. But the dish actually originated with the Wolof tribe found in Senegal, Gambia and Mauritius.

It’s a very flavorful dish that is cooked in a sauce made with fresh vegetables, spices that are blended together and then cooked with the rice.

Jollof rice can be quite complex - the last Ghanian recipe I looked at had 42 ingredients. So I’ve taken some liberties here, making it my own and making it simpler.

Tomato Puree Ingredients

1 tablespoon palm oil

½ yellow onion chopped

3 cloves garlic chopped

2 teaspoon fresh ginger chopped

2 habanero chilis seeded and chopped*

6 oz can of tomato paste

12 oz canned diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon salt

Jollof Ingredients

2 cups Tomato Puree, above

1 pound sage sausage

2 cups jasmine rice rinsed and drained**

¼ cup palm oil or olive oil

½ yellow onion chopped

1 medium red bell pepper

1 tablespoon curry powder

½ tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Tomato Puree Method

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and season with salt and other spices. Cook until onions become translucent, 3-5 minutes

Add garlic, ginger, and chilis and cook for another 2-3 minutes. * I can’t do habanero peppers - they’re just too hot for me, even though this is supposed to be a very spicy dish. I used 2 jalapenos and a small poblano.

You should have a nice aroma now and can add the tomato paste, cooking for another 6-8 minutes. Note: Stir well to ensure paste is incorporated well with the vegetables and cooks evenly.

Transfer all ingredients to blender or food processor and add the diced tomatoes. Process until smooth. Set aside.

Jollof Method

In a large skillet over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the sausage and onion and cook, stirring, until the onions begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add bell peppers and cook about 3 minutes.

** Don’t skip the step of thoroughly rinsing the rice. Rinse it until the water runs clear. This reduces the starch and helps the rice keep its shape.

Stir in the rice, curry powder, paprika, thyme, 1 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring, until the rice is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the bay leaf and 1½ cups water, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the water has been absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomato puree and return to a simmer, then reduce to medium-low. Cover and cook until almost dry and the rice is tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Let the rice sit for at least 5 minutes after it’s done cooking, then fluff with fork.

If it’s available to you, use palm oil. It will give the rice a distinct red color as well as that African flavor, but other oils are perfectly suitable as palm oil is not readily available.

Jollof is a good dish on its own, but I served it alongside some Pollo a la Brasa - Peruvian grilled chicken. Quite a mix of continents, I suppose.

If you’d like that recipe, go to my food blog -

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