I think I’ve mentioned my slight obsession with making the ‘perfect’ pot of jollof rice before, of how I want to make jollof that tastes just like my mom’s and how I’ve come up short so far.
I chide myself sometimes for wanting this; I try to convince myself that it’s just rice in tomato sauce, and it shouldn’t matter so much.
Yet, it’s so much more, jollof is party food; it’s celebration food – it makes me hopeful for joyful times.
I got the idea to make baked jollof rice from this baked salsa rice recipe, cooking the rice in an oven yields the most perfect firm and fluffy rice.
I love that there isn’t a standard recipe for jollof, it’s highly adaptable, the rice and tomato sauce is just the base.
Since I’d never baked rice before and didn’t know what to expect, I chose a simple recipe, and added a dash of lime juice just before I popped it into the oven.
I may not be able to recreate my mom’s jollof, at this point not even my mom can recreate it, I’m afraid the taste is probably gone with my childhood.
This rice was pretty close, the texture was perfect; and the taste… perfectly savoury, tomatoey and spicy.
Baked Jollof Rice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 2 Jalapeno peppers, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped (2 cups canned tomatoes)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube (I use Harvest Sun Vegetable Bouillon)
- 2 cups parboiled rice, rinsed
- 2 – 3 cups vegetable stock (or water)
- 2 tablespoons juice of lime
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup cilantro, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat
- When oil is heated, add onions and sautÃ© for about 5 minutes, until onions start to brown
- Add cumin, peppers and garlic, stir, and cook for 1 – 2 minutes more
- Add garlic, smoked paprika and ginger and cook for another minute or so
- Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently until tomatoes soften
- The oil should get a slight reddish hue, add the cubed bouillon and rice, stir and cook for about 3 minutes
- Lower the heat and add the vegetable stock (or water), use 2 to 2 Â½ cups for firmer chewier rice and up to three cups if you prefer softer rice
- Add the lime juice, and salt to taste
- Transfer mixture into a large baking pan or casserole dish
- Cover with foil, place it in the oven, and cook for about 45 minutes until rice is cooked through and the liquid is all absorbed
- Fluff rice with a fork when it’s done and garnish with cilantro