West African cuisine is heavy with starch, light on meat and generous on fat. Cooks in West Africa often use root vegetables like yams, cocoyams, and cassava, as well as cereal grains, plantains, hot spices, rice, peanuts, black-eyed peas, okra, green peas, citrus fruits, and pineapples.
Recipe Origin: MALI
Jollof Rice is among the best known of West African dishes not only because it is delicious and easy to prepare, but because the ingredients are readily available in Western countries! Its origin, however, remains a bone of contention between several West African nations. There are many regional cooking variations—this version is my mother's!
500 g (1 lb) lean beef or chicken
Salt and ground white pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
1L (1-3/4 pt) stock or water with 3 crushed stock cubes
3 large onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2-3 chillies (hot peppers), finely chopped
4 large tomatoes, blanched, peeled and blended or mashed
45 g (3 tablespoons) tomato paste
250 g (8 oz) each of assorted chopped vegetables, e.g. carrots, green beans,
mushrooms and capsicums (sweet or bell peppers)
500 g (1 lb) long-grain rice
Lettuce, parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro) and hard-boiled eggs to garnish
Cut meat or chicken into 5 cm (2 in) cubes or small pieces and season with salt and pepper. Cover and allow to stand for 1-2 hours.
Heat oil in fry-pan and fry the meat or chicken pieces until brown. Remove meat from oil and add to the stock in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Simmer on low heat until meat begins to soften, then remove from heat.
Drain excess oil from fry pan leaving enough oil to fry onions, garlic and chillies (hot peppers) until golden. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, half the combined vegetables and 250 mL (8 fl oz) of stock from the meat mixture. Stir well, adjust seasoning and simmer on low heat for 5-7 minutes. Add this vegetable sauce to the meat mixture in the saucepan and simmer gently. Finally, stir in the uncooked, long-grain rice. Adjust the seasoning again, cover and simmer slowly on low heat for about 15 minutes.
Arrange the remaining vegetables on top of the rice and continue to simmer until the rice absorbs all the stock, softens and cooks, and the meat is tender. It may be necessary to sprinkle additional water mix to help the rice cook. If so use small amounts at a time of approximately 250 mL (8 fl oz) lightly salted water.
Serve hot, garnished with chopped lettuce, parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro) and hard-boiled eggs.
A Taste of Africa
by Dorinda Hafner
Ten Speed Press, 1993
$16.95 / Paperback
Recipe reprinted by permission
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