Cultural Cooking: Recipe for Jollof Rice & Jerk Chicken

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The triumvirate of jollof rice, jerk chicken and rice and peas dominate black cuisine. The former is from West Africa, and the latter two from the Carribbean.

Jollof rice, a dish native to Senegal and the Gambia, allegedly has its roots in a culinary mishap. While cooking, a lady spilt rice into her pot of stew, and the rice absorbed the stew, taking on its orange colour and its flavour. This spread among the Wolof people, hence the name: Jollof rice. Many West African countries compete for the best version. Jerk chicken is a Caribbean dish, originating from Jamaica. Jerk refers to the seasoning combination, and is heavy on allspice. Jollof and Jerk combine the flavour profiles of Africa and the Carribbean, and the two are are like cheese and crackers: great on their own, but even better together.

Jollof Rice

Ingredients for 2 servings

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 30ml vegetable oil
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • ½  tube tomato paste
  • 2 Scotch bonnet peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 level teaspoon dried mixed herbs
  • 2 crushed chicken stock cubes
  • 300g rice (roughly 2 cups)
  • 120 ml water (around 1/2 cup)

Method

  1. Blend the onions until smooth and put aside. Blend the tomatoes, tomato paste and peppers until smooth and put aside.
  2. Heat the oil over a medium heat.
  3. When the oil is hot, add the onion purée and fry for 10 minutes, or until the purée starts to brown.
  4. Stir in the tomato purée and add the curry powder, garlic, ginger, dried herbs and chicken stock cubes. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the stew has reduced by half and is deep red in colour.
  5. Add the rice and water, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer for another 25 minutes, until the rice is cooked through and the liquid is absorbed. Stir often, so the rice at the base of the pot does not burn.

Jerk Chicken

If you’re lazy, most shops do a half-decent jerk seasoning, which can be brought back to life with a little scotch bonnet, ginger and garlic. Otherwise, use the below recipe. It’s best to marinate the chicken overnight.

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped spring onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 scotch bonnet 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 chicken pieces, slashed with a knife. This deepens the flavour.

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients (except the chicken) and blend until smooth.
  2. Put the chicken in a large bowl, and pour the marinade over it. Mix the chicken pieces around to coat them completely, cover and marinate overnight in the fridge.
  3. Place the chicken in an oven at 150 degrees Celsius for at least 25 minutes until cooked through. Cooked chicken is white throughout.
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Nathaniel Ogunniyi is a second-year Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) student at the University of Southampton. He writes mostly about rugby, F1 and politics. He's also a SUSU Trustee, so chat to him if you have any concerns.

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