I have Fisayo to thank for this. I must have walked past Rodo Jam hundreds of times on the Deli counter at my local supermarket and not given it a passing glance. I just thought it was some chutney, because hey it was sitting right beside an array of chutneys which I don’t like anyway, or I thought I didn’t ( i will give you a chutney review very soon). Fisayo and I had planned to put our own spin on this jam. The British call it Scotch Bonnet/Chili Jam. Fisayo made the first batch and I kept forgetting to make mine. She made it again, and I said you know what, send me a jar and maybe it would be the push I needed to make mine, and so she did. She sent me a batch all the way from Scotland. I almost missed it because I got to the post office and the guy at the counter said do you have any ID for Dooneyrooney? My heart sunk at that moment. Oh dear, Fisayo wrote my Facebook Alias on the package. A Facebook account is not an acceptable form of ID. Lol. No matter how much I tried, despite the fact that they “know me” at the post office, they weren’t budging. It was one of the times I respected living in a society with rules, that are adhered to. In other countries, for sure, I wouldn’t even need to talk too much. Looool.
The only solution was to re-deliver the package and I begged my flatmate to please sign for it on my behalf as I was going away for the weekend. Luckily for me, he was home when it came and that is how I got to taste Rodo Jam for the first time. First impressions, my taste buds were confused. Heat I can deal with, spicy, bring it on, I was raised by Yoruba women, so we know the deal as regards pepper, but sweet, nuh, uh, that wasn’t part of the bargain, so it was weird at first, but I kept at it until my taste buds could marry both flavours together, and I thought oooooh, now this is nice. Heat and Sweet definitely belong together, then I remembered my Zobo recipe (click HERE) which included dry pepper. I also remembered Mexican Hot Chocolate (my recipe click HERE), which also, involves dry pepper. As soon as I made that connection, it tasted even better, and kept getting better, better, and better. I was eating the Rodo Jam everyday until it finished, and I mean every day. I had it with crackers, I had it with Chips, I had it with Tortillas, I had it with flat bread, I had it with Sinasir, diet be damned, I fit into Size 6 clothes at a store last week, so I was treating myself. Hahahahahaha. I dug in with a spoon to clean the bottom of the jar, and then sadly it finished. You can guess what came next. I went to make my own. Looooool……
Make my own I did, and I made it twice. I scouted google for ideas and inspiration. Version 1 contained all the ingredients you will see below, before I made version two I remembered seeing vinegar in a lot of the recipes I came across. Okay then, time to raid the pantry. I have apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. I started with balsamic, then I topped it off with red wine vinegar, now this is definitely the better version of the two, of which I am posting the recipe. Lets Cook.
You will need
4 pieces of ata rodo (scotch bonnet/habanero pepper) – use less if your tolerance for spicy food is low
8 pieces of cherry tomatoes – i chose cherry tomatoes for their sweetness
2 pieces of long red pepper – you can substitute with 1 red bell pepper
1 clove of smoked Garlic – you can also use un-smoked
1 stub of ginger
1/4 – 1/2 cup of caster sugar – depending on how sweet you want it
1/2 cup of water – only if you use 1/2 cup of sugar, because it may be too sweet
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar – the good kind
1 – 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
If you don’t have access to any of the vinegars I wrote above, just make it without.
1. Place all the fresh ingredients into a food processor and blend till it is almost smooth. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: you don’t want it puree smooth, because it is prettier with a slightly rough look to it
2. This is the texture you want.
3. In a heavy based pan and pour in the sugar, and the pepper mix
you can add half a cup of water if you wish
4. Set to heat to high and let the sugar and pepper mixture boil
5. Add the balsamic vinegar. if you are not using balsamic vinegar, just leave it to continue boiling.
6. Let it boil until you start to see golden bubbles. This is the sign that the sugar has started caramelising.
this is very key – the golden bubbles I mean
7. Once the golden bubbles have started, then you lower the heat considerably, and let it simmer nicely. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: if you continue at high heat, the sugar will burn. The jam hasn’t set yet, so you need low heat to continue the process, while protecting the sugar from burning. See what I mean. The mixture is reducing and the caramel is getting thicker
8. Keep it on low heat, till you see the caramel running through the mixture
9. Stir and leave to continue simmering. You can see that the mixture has gotten thicker and the Jam has started to set.
10. Add the red wine vinegar and stir. You may be asking why I didn’t add it at the same time I added the balsamic. To be honest, it was a late in the stage idea. I was clearing up the vinegar bottles and I thought ooooh, why don’t I add red wine vinegar and see. People, it took the taste from 8/10 to 15/10. Red wine vinegar is best used at the tail end of cooking, or just as it is in salads and for dressing, so it was a good idea in retrospect to add it at this stage when the Jam was almost done.
11. In a few more minutes, the jam should be much thicker, and the red more like crimson. Dark, rich and red. It should also be thick, silky and shiny
The Balsamic is responsible for this colour because when it caramelises it deepens the colour of what it is cooked with. Yaaaay for balsamic.
Red wine vinegar could also have contributed to the deeper colour. One argument for the use of vinegar in this jam apart from the amazeballs flavour that they add, is colour. Of all the recipes that I searched, the ones with vinegar had a deeper colour and the texture was more “jammy” like, if that is a word. The picture below presented in a white sauce bowl is the first batch I made, without the vinegar(s). Notice how much lighter the colour is? I will be updating this post with a well presented picture of batch 2.
You can pair this jam with anything. Pancakes, spring rolls, samosas, plantain chips, toast bread, Masa, Potato Chips, Fried Yam, Grilled Prawns, go to town. Rodo Jam is sure to please.
I couldn’t photograph Batch 2, because I took it to a pregnant friend, who is really anxious to meet her baby. Poor thing is near term and she has just about had it. She has tried everything, nothing seems to work, so we are on the spicy food route. I have made another batch now, let’s see if baby will arrive. If it does, I am writing to the NHS to ask if my Rodo Jam can be included on the list of labour inducing foods or at least write to MumsNet and NetMums. Hehehehehehehe
I have two more Jam recipes on the blog.
Zobo Jam – stop throwing away your zobo leaves. Puree them and make into jam. Recipe Click HERE
Pineapple Jam – tastes way better than anything you will buy in a store. Make your own. This recipe has also inspired many people to make other types of fruit jams. Recipe, Click HERE