Ah… Jollof, the quintessential West African dish, if you’re from any of the West African countries you probably claim it originated from your part of West Africa.
I can still hear my childhood best friend screaming at our belligerent classmate “This makes no sense, just because you speak Wolof at home doesn’t mean your people invented Jollof!”
The thing is – I associate jollof with special occasions, like Christmas at my grandmother’s.
When the adults would cook after church, while us kids ran around playing carefully in our Sunday clothes.
My grandmother made her jollof over an open wood-burning fire; with fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers from the market, the chicken we chased after the day before, and the rice she special ordered weeks before.
Those special occasions when she brought out her Pyrex bowls; she handled those as if it were Wedgwood china.
I tried to make jollof once after I struck out on my own and it turned out a disaster, I never tried again.
Ironically, it’s hard to screw up jollof, it’s somewhat foolproof and very adaptable, everyone has their special way of making it; after rice, and the trinity of tomatoes, onions and peppers, the rest of the ingredients vary greatly depending on the cook’s preferences.
My recent attempt at making jollof was an experiment; I opted for a slow-cooker and included a cup of healthy puy lentils with brown basmati rice.
I added chopped carrots, lemon and harissa to the classic tomato, onions and pepper sauce…
I miscalculated the liquid to grain ratio and what I ended up with was much moister than traditional jollof.
It was still really good, but much suited as a filling, stuffing or a side than eating on its own, there was a tad too much sauce.
My jollof rice with lentils recipe needs a few tweaks, I’m sure I’ll perfect it after a few tries – until then, here’s a good guide for making the perfect jollof.