Nigerian Jollof Rice

Each time we make a video, I feel privileged to have the opportunity to take away a few little gems, whether it’s a great cooking tip, recipe secret, or a glimpse into an entirely different approach to food and family. To be honest, until the day we spent with the Utuk’s, I had no experience with Nigerian food nor jollof rice. Jollof rice is a staple rice dish that is common all over West Africa. It can be made with a variety of different proteins, but the basic ingredients for jollof rice are tomatoes, onion, salt, and red pepper. Affiong Utuk prepares her jollof rice with some of the usual ingredients but she also uses tomato paste, chicken bouillon and lots of crushed red pepper that gives her version of the dish a spicy kick. She serves protein dishes on the side, to accommodate the various dietary needs of her four children.

For Affiong, presentation is everything. She is a Nurse Anesthetist at Virtua Memorial Mt. Holly, NJ. Perhaps this is partially why she is very conscious of keeping her kitchen so clean while she cooks. One smart piece of advice she offered was this: when you are cooking for others, your guests should find out what you are serving by the aromas of the food, not by the mess you’ve left while preparing it. Along the same lines, Affiong says it doesn’t matter how good the food tastes; if it doesn’t look appetizing, why bother? In Affiong’s kitchen, she practices what she preaches, as she prepares a family feast with tender loving care.

Thank you Affiong, Ediomi and all of the Utuk’s for your patience and for seeing this project through. Katrina, thank you for your help during the shoot. Trokon, without your audio gear, these videos would not be very good… Sintalentos, you’re the musical man, thank you! Chitra, thank you for introducing me to Ediomi! And Paul, you toil so hard on these shoots and I love you for it. Thank you!

Music: Yaba E (Farewell) by Solomon Ilori And His Afro-Drum Ensemble; Super Mom by The Very Best; Nouvelle Generation Pts 1 & 2 by Orchestre Lipua Lipua; Surprise Hotel by Fool’s Gold; Happiness Is by Podington Bear; Children of Light by Quilt

Bise Bele Bath Masala Powder

The tough thing about cooking Indian food is that the secret is always in the spices. So seeing how a masala is made from scratch is really demystifying. The great thing is that if you make a batch of a masala like this, you can just keep it on hand and make incredibly tasty dishes very easily.

This is a follow up to Asha Janardhan’s Bise Bele Bath recipe – Asha shows how to make the masala powder that gives the bise bele bath it’s rich flavors. Of course, you can buy pre-made powder at an Indian market (and those can be really good too – MTR is a favorite brand), but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can make it from scratch:

Bise Bele Bath Masala Powder Ingredients:

1 tsp. whole cloves
1 tsp. marat maggu
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp ghee
1-1/4 tbs chana dal
1 tbs urad dal
3 handfuls coriander seeds
~20 curry leaves
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp nutmeg
~2 cups byadgi chilis

Method:

In heavy bottom pan over low-med flame, roast cloves, marat maggu, broken cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods in ghee. When it begins to splatter, cover briefly but don’t let it burn. Remove from heat.
In same pan, roast poppy seeds. Remove from heat.
Roast urad dal and chana dal until they darken. Remove from heat.
Roast corriander, curry leaves, asafoetida and nutmeg until fragrant. Remove from heat.
Remove stems from chilis and heat over low flame until fragrant. Remove from heat.
Grind all your roasted spices together and use in Bise Bele Bath or to spice up any dish.

Thank you Sintalentos for the music recs: Patrick Lee: Bad Panda #42; “Caddo Lake” by Michael Chapman

Also, thank you Joram for lending us your audio equip!