Jellof Rice of West Africa

Today’s morning lessons sent to us from the children’s school were initially embraced with loud screams from the little ones and downward looks and silence with the girls.

This isn’t going to be easy I mutter to myself. Right! Divide and conquer I think. The first class I gave to Aaliyah, Thor and Caleb.

We firstly look for the number ’11’ around the kitchen. A game to see how many times we can spot 2 straight lines sat next to one and other. The screams soon settled into a hive of excited wonderment. Okay, I then mistakenly start them on the girls (year 2) ‘geography’ lesson and we look at foods from around the world. A lot of countries were covered, many foods were thought of, quite a few from their experience of Dadda having actually created them for their dinner in the past.

We ended up in SubSaharan Africa. Now this memory takes me back to the time that John and I met. As well as designing for a clothing company just north of Soho in London (Noho), I also worked late afternoon in a hostel for young homeless people. I was their evening dinner chef. I had to pretty much forget everything that I had learned at catering college and research the wonders of international cuisine. This was partly due to the hostels embrace of multicultural London.

I did in fact re-educate my knowledge of Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, pretty much all cultural foods! Yes, including the Caribbean and some west African wonders.

I befriended one of the hostels staff members Dora. Herself from Ghana and a very keen cook. We spent many hours cooking, just as West Africans would have done. Traditionally meals would be cooked in a pot above a fire, later on a gas hob. I learnt spicy meatballs (with corned beef), served with hot tomato sauce, groundnut stew with chicken. Sardine omelet and a west Africa staple, Jellof rice.

I loved Dora’s surname! I believe it is a popular name in Ghana, Dora Owusa Ansah. That is such a great sounding name. It is a poetry of sounds to the ear. She was a lovely woman.

After not having cooked these dishes in years, today’s ‘geography’ lesson took me right back. The children and I talked about this great dish and I promised to make it for lunch.

The dish is flexible as different family’s all have their own recipes. So this is my take on this amazingly tasty dish of Africa. I have updated the simple one pot cooking option to make it my own. I am going to use a frying pan to cook the spice out with the meat and onions, but I will be using the microwave to cook the dish to perfection.

Ingredients:

Meat (your choice)

Onions

A Tin of Tomatoes

Basmati Rice

Salt

Spices (feel free to experiment)

I remember Dora just chose what was available. I thought about the flavours I remembered and came up with:

Dried coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, chilli (dried or fresh), paprika, celery salt and a little season-all.

You want your meat tender, so you could cook it in advance. Stewed beef for instance. Chicken is ideal. Just cook it in a frying pan with your spices first. Oh! And I finely chopped some cooked garlic mushrooms, just because they were there! My meat choice today was bacon lardons from the fridge. This is a main course meal on its own. But this is your party so play around… Frozen peas!

Cook your meat with the spice. Add your chopped onion and continue to cook until tender. Add your tinned tomatoes and cook a further 10 minutes.

Place in a large microwaveable bowl with your rice and about double the volume of boiling water. Season well. Place a lid on your bowl or use a plate to cover. Microwave on full power for 10 minutes then carefully stir the contents. Cook for a further 10 minutes and recheck the contents. At this point most of that flavoursome cooking liquid should be absorbed by the rice. If not, cook a further 5 minutes.

Very carefully remove the bowl and empty the contents into a baking tray with plenty of room. I do this in one fail swoop. Baking tray on top and flip over. Your rice should come out with ease and look like a solid block. Break this up with a fork and pull clumps out to the side of the tray, allowing the rice to become more flaked and separate. A lot of steam, so be careful. Once you are happy there are few clumps, serve.

My crew went wild for the extremely invigorating taste and moorish texture of this most famous West African comfort food ‘Jellof Rice’. Not a single grain of rice remained on any of their plates.

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diaryofagaydad.net

A Gay Dad reflecting on life in the Shires of England with my not so famous five and two rapscallion Dalmatian hounds

20 thoughts on “Jellof Rice of West Africa”

  1. Absolutely love this post. 1) I am going to make this dish with my kids. I’ve put it on my to do list which is a BIG DEAL in my life. Just looks so good! 2) love the narrative behind the post 3) love how adventurous your kids all are with food

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You did et de rien; it’s true. Oh dear, mushrooms are a no no in my house too as Frenchie has taken it upon himself to call them ‘fungus’ (he doesn’t bother with plurals) which somewhat kills the appetite. Such a shame as I really love stroganoff and usually end up revenge eating the kids’ leftovers.. 🤦🏻‍♀️

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha! I much prefer the plural Anna. It has so many happy connotations. But ‘Fungus’! Oh dear… I am a bit partial to the occasional stroganoff too! 🤔 might just have to throw one together soon. Thank you for the reminder. Bon appetite 🤫

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  2. I have all the ingredients of your recipe on hand and I think I will be making that rice for lunch, I think Jeff would really like it, me too!
    Thanks for the recipe Andy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s brilliant. Thank you for the encouragement Margie. It’s been a slow couple of days. Cooler weather, too much screen time, I’ve been hiding away when I can to read a book to review on Amazon. I hope your FaceTime with Rose and Nolan brought a few smiles yesterday! 🙂

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      1. Andi, I know what you mean about too much screen time, we did more than ten calls yesterday (and of-course I had to primp a little bit and make myself pretty for the camera. LOL, so today I am just going to lay back and do some reading of a great book I am in the middle of. I am still in my Pj’s and I might stay in them all day. this staying at home is making me just a wee-bit lazy! LOL)
        Our Face Time with Rose and Nolan was beautiful, they always make me smile.
        It’s not spring like here this morning, our temp is only 36 F, and no sunshine but I am not complaining as I know there are many hot days to come and I will be wishing for a cool morning like this. (well,maybe not this cool, for me a perfect temp is between 70 and 75 F.)
        Good luck on the book review and enjoy the rest of your day, 🙂

        Oh, I am so impressed with all your experiences with cooking and now you are continuing the cooking for your family.
        (I want someone to cook for me but all Jeff can do is boil water! LOL )

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Nothing at all wrong with the occasional PJ day. Kick back and enjoy a good read. I’m glad your little people got to join you yesterday on the screen.

        Certainly sounds chilly today in Denver. It’s not so bad here really, just so damn blustery!

        I love the joke regards boiling water! Great if you are powering a steam engine maybe! 😃 or maybe not! Have a lovely day Margie

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you, Andi , it’s looking like a nice day here for all of us, just got back from walking Hank and getting ready to start lunch with your great recipe and I will have a light salad on the side.
        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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