hot and spicy authentic african jollof rice at home

Loving nothing more than hot and spicy food I was in my element when a friend and ex-colleague introduced me to hot and spicy authentic African jollof rice. We went to a Nigerian restaurant in reading and ordered up lots of different dishes and I loved them all. but I have to say the texture, flavour, and heat of the jollof really did excite me and I was keen to recreate this at home again.

jollof rice
jollof rice

jollof rice is best described as a risotto type dish but with heat, depth of flavour and spice.

the spice and heat comes from scotch bonnet chilies that look pretty friendly but most definitely pack a punch. Be super careful using these and if you can’t handle spice perhaps consider either using a tiny amount and slowly building up the heat. or replace the scotch bonnet with a milder chili such as a jalapeno.

scotch bonnet
scotch bonnet



heat oil in a pan and cook the onions until they become translucent. be careful not to burn the onions as this will make them bitter.

add tinned tomatoes, red pepper, tomato puree and the scotch bonnet chili. add the curry powder, bay leaf thyme and season with salt and pepper. (i usually simply pierce the scotch bonnet and place it in the mix to let the flavours absorb into the mix.)

pour in 500ml of water and add the stock cube, cover with a lid and bring to the boil.

rinse the rice in cold water to remove any excess starch and then add it to the mix of tomatoes and spices.

bring it to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.

it’s then ready to eat. I sometimes chop up pieces of chicken to put in with the rice to make more of a meal of it and I also sometimes enjoy having a fried egg on top of the rice.

give jollop a try and let me know how you get on.

Easy Hainan Chicken Rice – sort of

In my years in China and with the amount of travel i have done with work and for fun, i have eaten a fair few Hainan chicken rice meals – some have been lovely and some have been utter crap. the point is, i still don’t know what the REAL Hainan chicken rice should taste like and i also don’t really care.

Hainan chicken rice sort of
Hainan chicken rice sort of

i love chicken, i love rice and i love dipping sauces and so i decided that after finding a recipe online the other day, that i would attempt Hainan chicken rice and see if it was great or rubbish. L liked it a lot and M liked it but said it wasn’t authentic whatever that’s supposed to mean but regardless of the opinions, plates were left empty which means that they must have enjoyed it.

so what exactly is Hainan chicken rice some of you may be asking? it’s a poached chicken gently flavoured with salt and ginger and then the stock is used to make boiled rice. the chicken and the rice are then ate with condiments of soy sauce, ginger sauce and chilli sauce. sounds pretty simple but if its to your liking it can be extremely tasty and comforting.

so how to make it?

for the chicken you will need a large chicken 1-2Kg, a 2″ piece of fresh root ginger and a generous pinch of salt. I used sea salt.
use a pot large enough to accommodate the whole chicken and fill it with water and bring to the boil. while its boiling you can wash and pat-dry the chicken and place the salt and the sliced 2″ piece of ginger in the cavity.
place the chicken in the pot breasts up and bring the water back to the boil. simmer gently for 20-25 minutes and then turn the chicken over. simmer or a further 20-25 minutes.

while its simmering prepare a large bowl (enough to fit the whole chicken in) of cold water. after the total simmering time of 40-50 minutes (depending on chicken size) is complete, remove the chicken from the pot and place it in the cold water and leave it to rest. this will reduce the heat of the chicken and stop it from further cooking.

for the rice,
plain white rice – 2 cups
2 red shallots finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
4 cups of chicken stock from the boiled chicken
pinch of salt
splash of soy sauce

in a hot wok quickly colour the garlic and onions in a splash of sesame oil. pour the browned onions and garlic into the pot of a rice cooker.
wash the rice through until the water isn’t cloudy anymore and place in rice cooker along with the chicken stock and salt.

turn on the rice cooker and leave it to do its magic.

dipping sauces:
while the rice is cooking get out the ingredients for the dipping sauces along with a mortar and pestle or food processor.

for the ginger sauce:
2″ fresh root ginger finely chopped
2 green onions or scallions finely chopped
2tbs chicken stock from the boiled chicken
1tsp salt
1tsp sesame oil

place all the ingredients in a mortar and pestle or food processor and bash/blitz the hell out of them then pour them into a serving dish.

for the chilli sauce:
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 small red chillies (remove seeds if you don’t want too much heat)
1/2 inch piece of fresh root ginger chopped
2tbs chicken stock from the boiled chicken
juice of 2 limes

place all the ingredients in a mortar and pestle or food processor and bash/blitz the hell out of them then pour them into a serving dish.

now that the chicken has had time to cool in the cold water remove the chicken and carefully chop up the chicken into small bite size pieces. serve up bowls of flavourful rice alongside the dipping sauces and enjoy.

That’s it! Easy Hainan chicken rice – let me know how you get on.

spicy pork and chilli pepper goulash

the other night was still quite chilly in beijing and i was wanting to eat something bursting with flavour as well as something a little spicy to take the chill away. i was feeling a cold coming on and i love eating spicy food when i have a cold.

one of my jamie oliver cook books has a recipe for this pork and chilli pepper goulash and i couldnt stop thinking about it. reading through the list of ingredients and the cooking methods, not only was it loaded with spicy goodness but it was also fairly simple to make. some of the ingredients listed are quite pricey in beijing and so i decided, since im trying to live on a sort of budget, that i would swap in some alternatives and it still worked out to be great.

the recipe called for a large lump of pork shoulder but when i went to the store they had two smaller pieces of pork that looked tempting so i bought them and when i got home i cut them into fist size lumps of pork so that the cooking time would be less – original recipe called for 3 hours but my belly was calling for 10 minutes :P. that would not be possible but i figured i could speed up the process of cooking slightly.


2kg pork shoulder off the bone, in one piece, skin off, fat left on – or two kg of stewing pork
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• olive oil
• 2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
• 2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
• 2 generously heaped tablespoons mild smoked paprika, plus a little extra for serving
• 2 teaspoons ground caraway seeds
• a small bunch of fresh oregano – i used dried as i couldnt find fresh
• 5 bell peppers (use a mixture of colours)
• 1 x 400g tin of good-quality plum tomatoes
• 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 400g basmati or long-grain rice, washed
• zest of 1 lemon
• a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

The recipe called for a jar of marinated peppers but they are not the cheapest here in Beijing so i decided to replace them with long green chilli peppers commonly used in Chinese cooking. I used 4 of them as i like spicy food.

This is an easy dish to make with the most time consuming part being the preparation. Once its in the oven you are free to go do your own thing.

preheat the oven to 180oC and then prepare all of the vegetables and spices so that the cooking process is quick and simple. Chop the onions and peppers and measure out the spices and other condiments.

I used my dutch oven for this dish and it was large enough and sturdy enough. Heat the dish over the hob and add a splash of olive oil. After washing the meat, season it with salt and pepper and place fat side down into the dish. turn the heat down to low and cook for about ten to fifteen minutes. this will be enough time to allow the meat and fat to releases its juices into the oil. Remove the pork from the pot and put it to one side.

While the pot is still heating add the onions, chilli, paprika, caraway seeds and oregano and a good pinch of salt and pepper to the pot and let everything cook together for about ten to fifteen minutes. Add the sliced bell peppers and tinned tomatoes and then put the pork back into the pot. Pour water over everything until the meat is just covered and lastly add the red wine vinegar. Place the lid on the dutch oven and then place the dish in the pre-heated oven for one hour.

After an hour check the meat and see how tender it is. Place in the oven for a further hour and then check the meat again. As i didnt use a large pork shoulder for this, but rather stewing pork, two hours in the oven was enough to render the pork ready and easy to fall apart at the touch of a fork.

While the pork was cooking i prepared rice in the rice cooker to accompany the goulash.

at the last minute just before serving i added the lemon zest and flat leaf parsley to the goulash as the heat from the stew allows the fragrance from the lemon zest to escape and slightly flavour the stew.

serve large bowls of boiled rice topped with goulash and peppers and a drizzle of the sauce and then top with the parsley and enjoy.

I have to admit that i also enjoyed a door stop of bread to mop up the juices at the bottom of the bowl once the goulash was polished off and it was the perfect recipe to enjoy on a still rather chilly night in beijing.

have a try and let me know how you get on