When I was pregnant with my son, the first trimester was an absolute mess what with the malaria, intense nausea and cravings for peppery food. Once, I wanted jollof rice but couldn’t cook it myself. Up until that point, my partner had never cooked me a meal other than sausages and eggs fried sunny-side-up. He insisted on cooking the rice for me but I couldn’t trust him to. Eventually, I had no choice–I was too ill to cook and a girl had to eat. Long story short, he cooked the rice and it was fantastic! Thus began our private Jollof War; yeah, his was great, but it wasn’t better than mine, come on!
The whole world knows about the rice feuds in West Africa: Naija vs Ghana vs Senegal. Even Liberia is trying to join in (*side eye*). We’re aware though, that some people would like to be left out of the jollof fan club, whether it’s Naija, Ghanaian, or Senegalese. These folks are tired of seeing jollof everywhere they go. If you’re one of them, this post is for you. Here are a few rice dishes that are tasty alternatives to jollof rice.
Ofada rice and ayamase sauce
This one is a fave that hasn’t achieved the international status of jollof rice yet. It’s our native brown rice served in leaves, with a native sauce cooked with blended green bell and bonnet peppers, palm oil, locust beans, and small pieces of ‘assorted meat’. Don’t try this one if you can’t handle your pepper.
This is not j-rice, please! It’s just a one-pot rice dish that could be anything from ‘jollof-lite’ (a mix of white rice and stew/jollof ingredients that the cook didn’t have the patience to cook properly), to something an uncle (we’ll talk about this uncle one day *eye roll*) used to call ‘disco rice’ made with sliced tomatoes, pepper, onions and sausages. Like the name implies, feel free to ‘concoct’ whatever you like. Just don’t call it jollof sha.
White rice and peppersoup
In my opinion, this combo is our version of oyinbo chicken soup. It is great for convalescents, helping you eat without nausea. For the full medicinal vibe, you can add what we call ‘efirin/nchanwu/scent leaf’ to the peppersoup. Like ofada and ayamase though, don’t try this if you can’t handle your pepper.
Good ol’ fried rice
Sometimes, it looks like the race in Naija is really a civil rice war between jollof and fried rice. People almost always prefer one to the other (as if both can’t peacefully co-exist sha, as they often do on plates at most parties). But if you’re tired of jollof, you can always opt for Naija fried rice.
Chicken or goat curry and white rice
At our house parties, this is always a hit (we often have to hide a stash deep in the freezer to get second helpings! Lol). It’s an easy enough dish to make and doesn’t take as long to cook as jollof or stew, so you get to save time in the kitchen. One major key for the chicken curry is the part used in cooking it. Chicken breast fillet is tender, absorbs seasoning well, and cooks pretty quickly.
Native jollof rice
If your grouse against jollof rice is that it doesn’t taste “local” enough, native jollof provides the right twist for you. With plenty of smoked fish, fresh palm oil and crayfish, you’re in for a delightfully ethnic treat. If you like to be a little extra, you can add fried snails, ponmo or fried fish just to finish work.
What are your favourite alternatives to jollof rice?