When Amanda who blogs at Maroc Mama announced her ‘Around the Muslim World’ recipe post series for Ramadan, I immediately became interested in it as I love learning all about different cultures. However, I was a bit disappointed to see that India was not in the list of countries for which bloggers were invited to submit their recipes. With around 180 million Muslims, India is home to about 10% of the world’s Muslim population. It has the third largest Muslim population next to Indonesia and Pakistan. I guess since Muslims are not in majority there it got overlooked.
I scrolled down the list to find Nigeria and signed up for it. My in-laws are of Indian origin but spent nearly three decades of their lives in Nigeria before moving to the US around fifteen years ago. Like his brothers, my husband was born and brought up in Nigeria. During nine years of my marriage I have heard some fascinating tales of Nigerian culture and the wonderful times that they enjoyed there.
It’s almost considered a feast in my house whenever Nigerian food is cooked. I remember the first time when my brother-in-law cooked Nigerian Beef Stew for all of us just a few days after my marriage. My husband, unaware of my adventurous taste buds asked me if I would be able to handle the fiery dish. To his surprise not only did I enjoy it along with pounded yam, it actually went on to become one of my favorite dishes over the years. Now whenever it’s cooked I can’t resist eating it for days in a row.
Jollof rice is another of my favorite Nigerian dishes that’s often cooked in my house. We like having it with grilled meat and stir-fried vegetables or salad.
I believe there are many versions of Jollof rice that are popular all over West Africa. The version that we make at home is a basic one using red bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, tomato paste, scotch bonnet peppers/habanero peppers, Maggi cube seasoning and parboiled rice. I often add my own touches such as garlic, ginger and green peas. You can choose to skip the tomato paste and use more tomatoes instead or vice-versa. Traditionally, palm oil is used in Nigerian dishes but I often substitute it with canola oil for health reasons.
All ingredients for this version of Jollof Rice can easily be found in major supermarkets, except for Maggi cubes and palm oil which are found in African grocery stores. A word of caution regarding scotch bonnet peppers – they are extremely HOT, so even a little goes a long way.
Please head over to Amanda’s blog for my family’s recipe of Jollof Rice. You will also come across some fascinating glimpses of Moroccan culture and cuisine on her lovely blog.