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  • Writer's pictureAlexa Renee

I Tried (and Failed) to Make Jollof Rice

Well, as you know, we’re kind of in the middle of a pandemic. COVID-19 has definitely jumbled my life around and stopped the one thing I love the most- exploring the world. I was supposed to go cave exploring in Tulum, Mexico in March. And before the pandemic really hit, I was about to book a glorious Airbnb for a trip to Guatemala in April. But, alas, I'm writing this from my living room.

Like many other millennials, I’ve been taking this time at home to learn and perfect new skills. Lately, cooking international foods have made me feel like I’m exploring the world. Last month, I took a virtual trip to Paris and made macarons. I even went to Lisbon and baked beautiful pasteis de natas. I haven't made banana bread so I haven't hit rock bottom... yet.

Yesterday, I was feeling kind of sad and longing for Ghana and I decided to make Jollof Rice. Because nothing cheers me up like nostalgia and carbs.

Jollof rice is a delicious dish of West African origin. It’s very similar to Cajun jambalaya, consisting tomatoes, peppers, onions, and lots of spices. There’s a huge debate across the region on which country has perfected this dish. Nigerians claim their rice is the best. So does Sierra Leone, Ghana, Senegal, and The Gambia.

Jollof Rice I enjoyed while in Ghana.

You know who hasn’t perfected this dish? Me, Alexa.

I started off very strong. I used this absolutely delicious recipe from a random google search:

Because of my IMMENSE luck in the past with recipes, and considerably large ego, I knew, this dish was going to be successful. Everything was going right for me! I blended all of my luscious aromatics together. I sauteed the hell out of my onions and tomato paste. I washed and rinsed my rice METICULOUSLY. I called upon my ancestors for the knowledge and patience I needed to get this rice cooked.

And y'all, come see how this rice betrayed me.

I mean...where do I even start? The flavor was delectable, but the texture mimicked crunchy porridge. Half of it was cooked and the other half was uncooked? The bottom was burnt? The top was still wet? I mean literally anything and everything that could've went wrong, went wrong.

Because of the stress of pandemic... and the fact that I'm secretly a huge baby, I cried over my failed rice for 5 minutes. Yes, I'm dramatic, but I truly I felt like I disappointed my DNA. If I can't even make rice... what the hell CAN I make?

I posted my defeat on Instagram story and some very friendly (and concerned) friends gave me a couple of recommendations for my next attempt. They assured me that jollof is a complex dish to make and it does take a bit of practice to perfect. Their tips:

1. Use parboiled rice

2. Don't stir too much

3. Make sure the rice comes to a boil first before simmering

So now, new tips in hand, I'm ready to attempt this again.

I am determined.

I am resilient.

I will emerge from this battle, victorious, with perfectly cooked delicious, spicy jollof rice.

Tune in for more updates on what I'm cooking, photo shoots from my backyard, and how I'm slowly going crazy at home with my family.

Till next time!



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