Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 1.11.22 PM

It is amazing how fiction translates into real life experiences in powerful ways.

Kate Young is a food blogger, who works with recipes inspired by books she’s read and loved. Last week, she shared what happened when she read Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah.

She was captivated by Obinze and Ifemelu’s story. No surprise there. Adichie’s novel is lovely and beautifully written. But something else caught her attention. She discovered Jollof rice, the signature West African rice dish. “I kept coming back to the description of this homely, comforting dish,” she recounts. She called up a friend for the recipe and went on to prepare different versions of the recipe until she arrived at one she liked.

See below [ after the image] for the recipe she shared on The Guardian.

Side Note: As a jollof rice connoisseur, I think Young nailed it. But if you consider yourself a jollof rice expert, and you are reading this post, do tell us what you think of Young’s recipe?


Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 1.11.51 PM

Serves 4 as a meal, or more as a side

5 small tomatoes (or one tin chopped tomatoes if you can’t find ones that smell like tomatoes)
2 small red peppers
2 scotch bonnet chillies (this is very much to taste – add more or less as you fancy)
1 red onion
Large pinch flaked sea salt
3tbsp rapeseed oil
250g basmati rice
4tbsp tomato paste
2tsp curry powder
1 stock cube (Maggi is traditional)
Pinch nutmeg
1 small red pepper (chopped into small dice)
1 small green pepper (chopped into small dice)
Sign up to our Bookmarks newsletter
Read more
Chopping board
Food processor/stick blender/mortar and pestle
Large frying pan
Medium saucepan
Wooden spoon

1 Remove the seeds from the peppers and chillies and chop into large chunks. Slice the tomatoes into quarters and remove their seeds. Top and tail and peel the onion, and slice into large chunks. Place these, along with the salt, into the processor/mortar and blitz or pound to a paste. This can be messy. I refer you to Obinze:

He had already told Nigel many times that Nigerian cooking was not cosmetic, with all that pounding. It was sweaty and spicy and Nigerians preferred to present the final product, not the process.

NB. I have had more than one scotch bonnet/eyes incident. I can’t stress enough – wash your hands well once you’ve finished chopping the chilli.

2 Warm the oil in the frying pan, and tip in the paste. Lower the heat and reduce it until thick, which should take around ten minutes, stirring regularly to prevent it sticking.

3 Meanwhile, you should cook the rice. Rinse it three times in cold water, and then add enough fresh water to cover the rice by 2cm. Put it on to boil, reducing to a simmer once the water is bubbling. Allow to cook (with the lid on) until the water has evaporated to the level of the rice. Turn the heat off and leave the rice to steam in the pot while you finish the sauce.

4 Add the tomato paste, crumbled stock cube, spices and chopped peppers to the paste mixture. Continue to cook for the next five minutes on a low heat, until the pepper has softened to your taste. Remove from the heat, stir the cooked rice through and serve immediately with meat, fish, or on its own.



Post images from Kate Young’s Instagram page.

Tags: , , ,

I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

3 Responses to “Americanah Inspires This Woman To Go on A Jollof-Rice-Making Adventure” Subscribe

  1. Hannah 2016/03/16 at 5:44 am #

    Pound onions to a paste? Haba mana!

    How about this:

    Wash rice a couple of times and keep aside, if it’s basmati. If it’s our Naija rice, parboil rice to a boil for a few minutes to get out the starch,then rinse through with cold water, drain in a colander and keep aside.

    Warm oil in pot, fry onions (I use loads of onions) and tomato paste until onions are fragrant and paste is thickened, maybe two, three minutes. Add meat stock, stock cubes, pepper, one clove of chopped garlic, spices (curry, thyme, ground ginger, etc). Bring to a rolling boil. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.

    Put in the rice, stir and cover the pot. When the rice is almost dry, check that the grains are cooked but still a bit firm, not mushy, then allow to dry all the way. If the rice is still hard, add water in teeny increments until cooked. (Bottom of pot might eventually burn a bit, depending on how much oil you used).

    Just before you turn off the heat, add sliced onion rings, drained sweet corn and/or peas. Leave pot half open, allow to cool for a few minutes before you stir through.

    Garnish with sliced tomatoes or green pepper (if that’s your thing), serve and enjoy!

  2. Catherine Onyemelukwe 2016/03/16 at 8:00 am #

    I love Kate’s weaving in of Americanah bit in her recipe! I too would not grind or pound the onions. I use Uncle Ben’s rice, I’m not into washing or picking out the stones as we used to do in Nigeria!

  3. Obinna Udenwe 2016/03/16 at 9:32 am #

    I didn’t like that the rice was done before it was poured into the paste and turned. The best would be to parboil the rice after washing, then keep aside and cook the pasta — fresh tomatoes, onions, spice etc as described above, then while simmering add water so it looks like stew and pour the parboiled rice into it. The rice soaks in the stew till it is done.

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


What to Listen to After Reading Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers


Imbolo Imbue’s Behold the Dreamers is one of the most talked about African novels. The novel tells the story of Jende […]

13 ways Nigeria’s Literati Greeted Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize Win | by Olaoluwa Oni


By Swedish consensus, Bob Dylan has “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” and a literature prize […]

A Little Judgement | by Michael E. Umoh | An African Story


HOW DO YOU SAVE A LIFE? You go out and buy puff-puff. It began like this: I was walking towards […]

Uniben Boy in Berlin | By Oris Aigbokhaevbolo


  I Beset by love, lust, and other forms of collegial companionship at the University of Benin, my friends and […]

A Book About Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds


Congrats to Yemisi Aribisala! Her essay collection on Nigerian food and culinary culture is set for an October 31 release. […]

Chimamanda Adichie Had a Christian Dior Moment


Head of Dior Maria Grazia Chiuri made a bold statement at her catwalk show in the beautiful gardens of the […]