I spent ten weeks in a small town in Ghana last summer when I was conducting research for my masters degree thesis. I was a little worried about finding gluten-free vegetarian food I could eat there, so before I left, I asked one of my Ghanaian friends, Isak, for recommendations. He gave me great advice, and highly recommended two traditional dishes: “red-red” (a mix of spicy beans served with fried plantains) and jollof rice (a rice dish with tomato and spices).
I really liked both dishes. Because I didn’t have access to a kitchen in Ghana, I had to eat all my meals at local restaurants in town. I tried out several different types of jollof, and liked it best when the rice was soft, and came with several types of vegetables.
This is the best jollof dish I had in a restaurant in Ghana. It was served with char-grilled squid.
I’ve tried to replicate jollof rice at home, and this is my best guess at a recipe. However, I’m sure many Africans will disagree with my directions. As this Guardian article points out, the recipe for the dish varies a lot between West African countries.
A view of Accra, Ghana, from the Jamestown Lighthouse
- one onion, diced
- two medium hot peppers, diced (I tried making the dish with hot peppers once, and that was a MISTAKE)
- chopped carrots
- tomato paste
- vegetable stock cube
- 2 cups of white rice
- 4 cups of water
- oil (for cooking)
- garlic salt (for garnish).
Directions: In a cooking pot, fry the onion and peppers until soft. Add the chopped carrots and cook for approximately 3 more minutes. Next, add the stock cube and 4 cups of water, along with a generous portion of tomato paste (approximately 1/4 cup). Add the rice, cover and cook until soft (approximately 15 minutes). When the rice is cooked, add garlic salt for additional flavor, and more tomato paste, as needed. Serve with fish, or a simple omelet for protein.