Nigerian Fried Rice Recipe

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why it works

  • Converted rice helps ensure fluffy, separate grains with little to no stickiness.
  • The addition of green pepper at the end of cooking gives the dish a fresh and vegetal flavor.
  • The first partial cooking of the rice in Nigerian broth gives it a savory flavor, while the second cooking combines the rice and vegetables, bringing the dish together.

In my personal list of the top five Nigerian rice dishes, fried rice – a light yellow rice dish sprinkled with vegetables – vies for the top spot with white rice, jollof rice, coconut rice and Ofada (a sweet fermented rice). Like jollof rice, this popular dish is cooked at home and in restaurants alike, and is always present at parties and special events.

Nigerian fried rice looks, feels and eats like a dish that is a cross between golden turmeric Indian pilaf and sprinkled vegetables Cantonese rice. It’s no surprise that Nigerian fried rice is an amalgamation of influences; Chinese and Indians have lived in Nigeria since the 1930s and 1970s respectively, and have contributed to Nigerian food culture, including spring rolls and samosaswhich are permanent installations in small chops, a collection of Nigerian appetizers served at parties and celebrations.

Choose your tools

While her name may conjure up images of fire wok and smoky wok hi, these elements do not come into play in the Nigerian version, which instead uses a heavy-bottomed saucepan or sauté pan as the standard cooking vessel. Here, the desired result is more pilaf than stir-fry: well-cooked but not mushy individual grains of rice interspersed with tender, well-seasoned vegetables that hold their shape.

Rice

To easily achieve this goal, it is crucial to start with the right type of rice: converted or parboiled rice, such as Uncle Ben’s Original rice or golden sella basmati. This type of rice has been partially cooked and then cooled and dried. The half-cooking process fully gelatinizes the starch molecules in the rice grains, which is just a technical way of saying the rice is cooked until the starch granules puff up and soften. Once cooled and dried, starch goes through a process called retrogradation, which is the same phenomenon as makes bread stale. The result is dried rice grains that cook more separate and fluffy, with little to no stickiness, than their raw rice counterpart. This type of rice also absorbs seasoning very well, a quality that lends itself well to the characteristic golden hue of Nigerian fried rice.

Serious Eats / Maureen Celestine


The vegetables

For vegetables, it’s common to add carrots, onions, peppers, green peas, green beans, sweet corn, or even mushrooms. Although protein isn’t explicitly called for in Nigerian fried rice, I enjoyed versions with diced chicken and minced beef. As for the cooking liquid, we mainly use Nigerian broth but we can also use water or even coconut milk for a strong coconut taste. It is typical to season the rice with curry powder and dried thyme, which add fragrant spice and color. Beyond that, there are no hard and fast rules and variations abound, from simple fried rice simply sprinkled with onions, carrots, green beans and bell peppers to a surf and turf version featuring small prawns and fried cow’s liver.

When I was little, my mother made fried rice on Sundays. It was her famous “test kitchen” dish that she loved to experiment with, trying new tricks and tricks she came across, such as using different varieties of converted rice to toast the rice in advance, staggering the adding vegetables and changing the spices. Although no two casseroles were the same, her method of cooking was often the same: she almost always softened the vegetables in hot oil and added a handful of chopped green peppers towards the end, which were left to cool. steam in the last minutes of cooking. The peppers remained bright green and imparted a fresh vegetal flavor and aroma to the finished dish.

This recipe is almost exactly like my mom’s except for the coconut milk, a trick I learned watching my friend Timi make hers. It adds a touch of creaminess that my kids love. serve with dodomoi moi, and fried or grilled chicken on the side.

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