I am proudly Ijebu. Okay, okay half Ijebu before my Aunty will read this and say “iwo omo nna yi”. English for you this Igbo girl. Lol. As a bonafide member of the Ijebu clan albeit 50%, a very amazing 50%. I can extol the virtues of my mothers’ side of the family for days. Such amazing and warm people. It so happens that they are a very popular family in Nigeria. Mentioning the family name will expose me a little, so let me stop there. Lol. Part of their popularity plus the family being so large; my Grandpa had 10 wives, so go figure how many siblings my mum has, her uncles also married many wives, so imagine how many cousins she has, now quadruple that figure and imagine how many cousins and second cousins I have. Mind boggling. We have been warned to bring prospective spouses home long enough, especially if they have Ijebu blood, so they can be vetted because you just may be related. Lol. One of my cousins almost married a second cousin. True story.
Our family functions can be likened to a carnival. In fact at weddings, we always manage to oppress the family of the other side with our sheer number. You marry one of us, whether male or female, you marry the whole family. You want a small wedding, you had better go to Timbuktu because the whole clan will find their way there otherwise. Lol. My mothers’ family never ceases to show up for a party, and we all buy aso ebi (common family attire) so we come en masse in similar clothing (to oppress) and have a good time greeting each other, catching up and all around boisterousness. The only downside for me is that I will greet upwards of 200 people (it still baffles me how they all know each other, a family that large) and for everyone you have to kneel down Yoruba style and chat with for a few minutes with them telling tales of how tiny I used to be. Plus my mum is one of the youngest of the horde of siblings and cousins so virtually everyone is a Big Aunty or Big Uncle who can send you on hundreds of errands. We the grandchildren served as unpaid waiters and footmen at parties. As soon as we got older, we avoided family parties like the plague. Our Mum’s or Dad’s had to virtually drag us to one or two so they could see our faces.
With a large family and one with their standing, there are always many occasions to celebrate. Before the days of hiring caterers, food for the party was cooked at the family home of the celebrant. Tens of people everywhere doing a hundred things, shopping for foodstuff that took a whole day. Massive Iron pots called adogan bubbling away with mountains of food, one of which was Jollof rice. Geez, the preparation for the party was work enough for all of us. My mum being one of the youngest was heavily involved and by association, I was too. So, when I had a big portion of Jollof rice to cook two weekends ago, I just submitted to the Pro and I must say, her Jollof rice floored my own. A friend of mine eat it and said it was like sitting at a wedding in Lagos. I just knew I had to share.
I will like to point out that the recipe is the same as my previous Party Jollof Rice recipe HERE but Mummy used 2 extra ingredients that I had totally totally forgotten about. It has been quite sometime that I have been present for party cooking (thanks to caterers) some things slipped through.
Watching her use them suddenly sparked my memory and then she added more of one ingredient that we probably use sparingly (knorr chicken cubes). Plus her Peppered Meats. OMG. It was pulling apart just like Party Meat, oh boy I have eaten enough meat to last me till Christmas, she has to cook it again before she leaves.
As per the steps from my previous post, here are pictures.
1. I made this bubbling pot myself using the same Party Jollof rice recipe. Lots of stock, tomato puree, fresh pepper and oil. I have never prepared Jollof rice in bulk before, so Mummy took over the seasoning as bulk cooking is a whole different ball game entirely. One of the new ingredients she added was White Pepper and immediately, the aroma changed. The transformation was noticeable. I knew I was in for something amazing.
2. While this was bubbling away, I was boiling the rice, after which I washed it and it was ready for the sauce. Please refer to the original Party Jollof Rice Recipe (HERE) on how to get your rice ready.
3. Then we moved on to the next step, adding the rich pepper sauce to the al dente rice and combine. Notice how rich and red the colour of the tomato sauce is? That was Mummy too. She said, add more tomato puree (while i was making the sauce above), trust me. I did not argue.
4. While the rice and pepper mixture was cooking, she said blend Ginger. I thought huh? Ginger, why. She said the aroma of party jollof rice is not just about it burning but two other key ingredients that you add towards the tail end of cooking. So basically while the rice is steaming with the pepper, it gets extra seasoning whose flavour doesn’t diminish by heat. That is how you can tell experienced caterers from the any kind caterers, the aroma. Before the jollof rice was fully cooked, she added blended Ginger, more White Pepper and more Knorr chicken cubes and she let it cook, and of course BURN.
Her Brother’s wife Aunty Morenike, is one of the biggest caterers in Nigeria. I wish I could famz and mention her full name, but I can’t. Lol. When the Jollof rice was fully cooked, I think I must have screamed OMG, this smells AND tastes like Aunty Morenike’s Jollof rice. Mummy was smiling, and she said, what do you mean, do you know when she started cooking for parties? Before the advent of caterers. Lol.
The colour of the Jollof rice you can see below speaks for itself. The taste on the other hand, is something else.
5. Now, I would like to add a little caveat. It takes a lot of experience to add extra seasoning more than halfway through cooking. Mummy did not measure anything, she was just tasting and adjusting. At some point, she had to transfer the jollof rice from the pot to a very big Wok and she finished it from there. Watching her though, I will advice one thing. Season the tomato sauce properly, and I mean properly, don’t forget white pepper. Immediately after this stage whose picture is shown below,
before you mix the entire thing, add blended ginger, more white pepper and possibly more Knorr chicken cubes. One thing I have noticed with cooking with ginger is this. Its flavour diminishes rapidly with heat, which is why it is best used in Chinese and Thai cooking, because their food is Express cooking. Nigerian food on the other hand takes a long time on the heat, and by the time you are done, you may not even taste the ginger unless you are told it was added. Which is why I am guessing Mummy added it at the end of cooking before the jollof rice was totally cooked. This way you get the benefits of both flavour and aroma.
It was truly an enlightening experience for me, and I just knew I had to share. My Mother is an AMAZING cook, and I hope my daughters will say the same of me. Lord please o, give me a daughter. One is enough. Okay, I don’t mind Twin Girls. Lol
Oh, Mummy is baaaaaaaack. Yippeee. As I was typing this, she said there is another method that she knows o. I said mehn, fingers to the keyboard and I was typing away furiously. I will be sharing her fried rice recipe tomorrow, after which I will post this other method. Stay tuned for her recipe on Akara, Ifokore, Efo Riro, Grilled baby potatoes and Smoked Turkey, Beans porridge. Let me stop typing now, but my body is putting on the pounds. Lol