Tell the average Nigerian that you are vegetarian and they will look at you like you have a *possibly* contagious disease. My family usually gives me looks of pity, a shaking of their collective heads, and a dose of lamentation about “what I’m missing…” Luckily, I’m tough and pay them no mind. Instead, whenever I get a chance, I set out to make the classic Nigerian dishes, vegan style. To be honest, Nigerian food is rather veggie-friendly to begin with.
Meat is most often eaten like a side dish. Rice is king and will be served in HUGE mounds on the plate, usually with additional sides of cole slaw and plantain. This Jollof Rice is flavorful and spicy (if you want it to be). You could serve it with some fried tofu or mock chik’n if you want, but I think it stands just fine as a main. I prepared a simple slaw and some Mosa, aka plantain fritters, with mine and it went down a treat!
1 large red pepper
4 medium tomatoes
1 large red onion
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 scotch bonnet pepper (optional, add an extra pepper if you’re not afraid of heat!)
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 heaping tbsp of curry powder
2 tsp dried ginger or a small knob of fresh ginger
1 tbsp dried thyme
1-2 vegetable stock cubes or 1-2 tbsp of veggie bouillon powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional, but it adds that little something)
2 cups basmati rice
2 cups of water
salt, to taste
In a blender or food processor, blend water, tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic and ginger (if you’re using the fresh kind)
In a medium sized pot, over medium heat, combine oil and rice and stir for a minute or two until rice is lightly toasted. Add sliced onion and stir for another minute.
Pour blended vegetables over rice, add remaining seasonings and stock cube (start with one cube, and taste the liquid for salt, if there is not enough, add another).
Bring to a boil for a minute, and then reduce to a simmer. Allow rice to cook uncovered for 25 minutes, stirring every few minutes to ensure distribution of liquid. Cover for the last 5 minutes of cooking. If rice is becoming dry and is still undercooked, add a small amount of water, stir and cover, repeating process until rice is tender.