Rice is the most common staple food in the world, and we continue to discover new ways to enjoy it in Nigerian cooking.
Across African and Asian cuisines, rice is a dominant feature on the menu. Whether served plain or with a bit of fanfare, this starchy cereal grain will always find its way to the table, and for Nigerians? We definitely love our rice! Beyond the classic jollof that is a fan favourite, we have discovered ways to recreate rice dishes with recipes that make each one feel like a whole different meal.
First, did you know that rice can be eaten as a swallow? Tuwo Shinkafa from Northern Nigeria is a thick pudding usually made with local rice and best enjoyed with Miyar Gyada, a rich variation of groundnut soup whose recipe can be found here.
Now, let’s talk about enjoying rice in a jollof way that isn’t classic jollof. This is where meals like coconut rice and banga rice come into play. Coconut rice is a creamy favourite made from coconut milk, natural or processed. It can be prepared plain or if you like a bit of colour, with some tomatoes to mirror the classic jollof. Banga rice on the other hand brings with it a taste of fresh palm trees, a sumptuous native dish indigenous to the South-South region of Nigeria. For either meal, the use of fish is important. Dried or smoked fish broken into bits will round up the traditional flavours, assuring you a taste of wholesome delights in every spoon.
Ofada rice and sauce is brought to you with love from the South-Western region, where party lovers and chunks of meat abound. This is a local rice dish usually served in leaves alongside a steaming pepper sauce filled with assorted meats. The unspoken rule in every Lagos party is simple: There must be Ofada!
You’d be amazed at the kind of sauces we eat with plain white rice as well, with delicious stews and pepper soups. With Nigerians, you already know how much we like it hot and spicy.
Of course, this piece would not be complete if we do not pay homage to Jollof Rice, the king of Nigerian rice dishes. It has become a national treasure and a bone of contention between other African countries over whose Jollof is the tastiest. While I won’t be getting into any jollof wars on the internet, I can say for a fact that our Jollof rice recipe made with basmati rice in the Orishirishi Cookbook ranks as one of the very best!
I documented all of these amazing rice recipes in my cookbook. If you are interested in learning how to put a spin on a dish or three, order a copy here