I believe I have Mary Eze to thank for this. Mary where are you ooooooooooo, you have been called out. Please read this and testify. She was the very first person who told me you can make Jollof rice in an oven. Never heard of it before, prior to that day. She explained the process, which I found quite intriguing and I promised to try it out. Somehow, when the thought to make Jollof rice pops up, out of habit I go my Party Jollof rice route (recipe HERE), which has always worked. Once or twice I think Mary left a comment reminding me to try her method and again I would forget. My apologies for that Mary. I hope you didn’t think I was discounting the efficacy of your method. A few days ago someone posted her success with the Oven method and it finally clicked within me. I was going to try it out. I got back from work yesterday tired like nothing else, but because I am going to be off work till Wednesday (amen somebody), I ignored the fatigue and got to cooking. I even devised something quite interesting in the process of making this jollof rice, which I am going to share in another post.
Making this was quite interesting. I had to go back to the original party jollof rice post to dig out Mary’s comment. That post has almost 200 comments but I was not deterred. I found it, it was a brief summary and I thought crap, I need more details. Now, if this was a baking recipe, I would not even try it, but with cooking, my mind always fills in the blank spaces, and I make up the steps in my head. The one thing I have against this process (you know you can count on me to tell you the whole picture), was the fact that the finished product though delicious, tasted like the rice did not entirely absorb the flavour of the fried stew. I have quite a very discerning palate. My taste buds are very acute and in the background I could taste a hint of plain boiled rice, which as very strange because the rice was cooked in the sauce from scratch. It just felt as if, someone mixed in plain boil rice into it. Now, I don’t know if this is a characteristic of oven baked jollof rice, because the heat is not as intense as cooking on a stove. I was watching the rice closely and it did not bubble like you would expect with cooking jollof rice on a stove. The beauty of it is, my dear neighbour Funmi came over last night to takeaway the Jollof rice and she said the same thing to me this morning. Honestly she did. In fact, I deliberately did not talk at first, just so I wouldn’t put words in her mouth. She echoed my thoughts perfectly. Did I mention that Funmi is a fantastic cook too? Don’t try her Jollof rice or Ewa Aganyin stew o, or her white Okro soup. Don’t even try her cheesecake. She has converted me and she is making it for me tomorrow. Yaaaaaay.
With my Project Managers hat on, I think the reason I got this result was because I used baking paper to cover and not foil, so therefore, the oven dish was not properly sealed to lock in the steam as well as the flavour. I had run out of foil paper. Steam is very useful to lock in and help absorb flavour, when cooking foods that are originally hard and need to soften while cooked in a rich pepper stock. Which is why you cover the pot when cooking jollof rice, beans, yam porridge and the likes. The pot cover is not just for decoration. Lol. I would try it again, this time with foil, properly seal the edges and invite my neighbour over for a rematch. Who knows, there may come a time in my life where I would need to use an oven because that is the only thing I have access to, I never give up when it gets to trying out new things with food, so stay tuned. You try it out and use the foil and tell me your results. Here’s how
You will need
3 cups easy cook rice – standard measuring cup of 250ml
3 cups fried pepper stock
3 cups of water
1 Red Onion
2 Bay leaves
1 small can of tomato puree – i used Derica
2 pieces of Ata rodo – scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
1 piece of Tatashe
3 pieces of Tomatoes or 1 can of Plum Tomato
Vegetable oil – i used sunflower oil
1. Blend the tomatoes, with the onion, tatashe and chilli. Set aside.
2. Chop a little more onions, heat up a saucepan and add the onions. Let it fry for a bit, then sprinkle in the curry and thyme. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: it is best to fry spices in oil, this helps to release their flavour making their effect more intense.
3. Add the previously blended pepper and tomato puree. Fry for a few minutes and then add beef stock and continue frying. According to Mary’s recipe, I don’t need to fry for as long as I would with the traditional party jollof rice method. Maybe I would fry the same as if I was using a pot, the next time I make this. Don’t think it contributed to the end result though.
4. While the pepper is frying, wash the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear. This took me 3 trials. Place the washed rice into the heat proof oven dish. You can also use a square foil dish.
5. Pour in the fried pepper. This time I also measured out 3 cups. I finished off with adding bay leaves.
6. Add water. I measured 2 and 1/4 cups of water. Re-season again with salt and Knorr. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: i used one cube of knorr chicken and sprinkled in a some salt.
7. Cover with foil paper and seal the edges tightly. Place in the oven and bake at 250 (480 in Fahrenheit) for 45 minutes.
8. At the 15 – 20minute mark, take it out of the oven and stir.
Chances are that you would see a thick film of pepper sauce on top. My observation: see how the rice beneath looks like plain boiled rice? For the volume of fried pepper I used in relation to the volume of water, I wasn’t expecting that result. This is why I am suspecting the lack of steam could be the culprit.
Or it could be that the volume of water I added (2 and 1/4cup) was not enough to match the 3 cups of fried pepper, so the pepper floated to the top giving off that hint of boiled rice. I used less water because when making Party Jollof rice, that is what works. Next time wi would use equal volumes of water and fried pepper or even more water and re-season. I am mentioning my pitfalls, just so you avoid it. Stir to combine and place back in the oven.
9. After 35minutes, take it out again and stir.
Slice onion rings and tomatoes if you have (i didn’t) place on top. Put it back in the oven for the final 10minutes.
10. By the final 10 minutes, this is what you should have
a closer shot of the oven dish
see what I meant by the hint of plain boiled rice flavour? The colour is fab, the classic Jollof rice flavour, but you can still see some flecks of white rice.
Again, I have to stress that the rice was delicious. I am not knocking down this method at all. My taste buds are just really very astute. I will definitely want to try it again, next time using equal quantities of water and fried pepper and also using foil paper to seal the edges in and prevent steam from escaping. If you are a Pro at using this method, and you have more tips, please share your wisdom gotten from experience.
Ooooooh, I have been blessed with more tips. Thanks ladies. I have taken it all on board, and will try it again. Let us consider this as How to Cook Jollof rice in an Oven Part 1 – the cooking the rice in the oven from scratch method and then I will be posting a Part 2, the starting half way on the stove and then finishing off in the oven. Thanks again ladies. I appreciate the help.