I just want to thank all you for watching the segment on CBS 2 Chicago. If you havent seen it yet, click on the link.It was a a pleasure to revisit food that I grew up on ,having a Ibo Nigerian father. As I get more into food I love to study the origins and evolutions of dish. What was particularly fascinating while researching this was to see see how the slaves of West Africa carried their traditions to the the Americas and how our favorite foods can trace the influence of the slaves. When you think of Creole ,Caribbean , and Southern Cooking you can see it right there. If you search the Internet you will find various ways and opinion on how to cook proper Jollof Rice. Remember it varies by regions and tastes, so put your own mark on it.
Sorrel/ Roselle Punch sweetened with Agave Nectar
Roselle (Hibiscus) can be purchased in Latino markets under the name Flor de Jamaica.
1 cup dried hibiscus
6 cups hot water
slices of fresh peeled ginger
Agave Nectar to sweeten to your tastes
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
Boil your water.Rinse your dried hibiscus with cold water to remove sediment. Infuse your dried hibiscus in the water and allow to steep for 10 minutes until its a rich ruby red color. Strain the infusion into a container and add Agave Nectar to sweeten to taste. Add ginger slices while warm. Allow to cool. Then refrigerate. Serve over ice with lemon or lime( optional).
Note: Hibiscus has anti hypertensive properties . African Americans suffer high incidents of Hypertension , heart disease, and diabetes. By changing this traditional recipe laden with sugar to sweeten with Agave Nectar( low glycemic index) makes this healthier.
Non Alcoholic Ginger 'Beer'
3-4 Ginger Roots
2 cups of sugar
6 cups of water
2 limes or 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
Peel and slice ginger into small pieces. ( A spoon or vegetable peeler works well).Boil water. In a blender place ginger and add some hot water to liquefy. In a large oven proof bowl or pot, add the ginger liquid and rest of water. Cover with lid and allow to sit in a warm oven or warm place for 1 hour. Strain Ginger brew through a cheesecloth lined strainer into a gallon container. Add sugar, cloves, and cinnamon stick, citrus juice and more water to make a gallon. Place back in ovenproof bowl and cover. Allow to sit for another hour. Strain again through cheesecloth and strainer. A funnel will be helpful. Allow to cool and refrigerate overnight. Serve over ice.
Note: This is more an infusion than the traditional fermented Ginger Beer.I used the Congo Cookbook as a recipe source.Ginger aides Digestion and has many healthful properties to ward off illness.
Take ripened almost black plantains and slice on diagonal or in round circles. Heat some vegetable oil until sizzling and add slice. Cook on each side until golden brow,. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve. For entertaining pierce the cooked plantains pieces on wooden skewers for individual plantain brochettes.
Coco's Jollof Rice
Note: Feel free to add other vegetables or meat of your liking. For example Okra, peas, shrimp, beef, etc.Peanut oil is traditionally used and can withstand high temps. If you have allergies check the label for trace amounts of the peanut protein. However the allergen is passed through the protein and not the oil. If you have shell fish allergies omit the shrimp powder. Shrimp powder can be found ground at Latino markets. Asian Markets also carry dried shrimp. If purchased whole, pulverize in spice grinder. Everyone has an opinion on this dish and has their own way to make it unique. Enjoy!
3 cups of Basmati Rice ( rinsed)
1 pound chicken thighs boneless and skinless
1/4 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
2 onions chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
Optional use of hot peppers like scotch bonnet, chilies( depends on your heat tolerance)
1 small can of tomato paste
2 cubes chicken bouillon ( Can be substituted with broth as well).
water( approx 4-6 cups) possibly more
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Thyme
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 teaspoon dried shrimp powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup chopped green beans
1 carrot peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
Cilantro for garnish
In a dutch oven or large skillet with cover( cast iron) Heat oil and add chicken which you can lightly season with salt, paprika, pepper, etc. Cook in oil until until done. Remove chicken and set aside. In the same pan with caramelized bits and oil, saute the onions, bay leaf, and chopped green peppers on a slightly lower med heat. Don't over cook , but cook until soft and golden, Add the rest of your dry seasonings, ginger, and bouillon , tomato paste. Mix and get the tomato paste to start to slightly caramelize in the pan with the spices, etc. Add the rice and vegetables. Cover with liquid( start with 4 cups). Reduce heat , stir, and cover. Occasionally lift lid and stir to make sure rice doesn't stick. You may have to do this periodically. Add more liquid as needed until rice is thoroughly cooked. May take up to 30 min.
Take chicken and slice on the diagonal. Arrange rice on platter. Surround with chicken and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Some other sources and links for Jollof Rice
Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz
And for more interesting tidbits visit my fellow blogger and food historian Louise at Month of Edible Celebrations,