Jollof rice is a West African dish made with rice, tomatoes, onions, lots of peppers and lots of spice. Nigerians prepare it differently from Ghanaians, who make it differently from Liberians. There are versions from Senegal, Cameroon and Sierra Leone. The debate over which is superior is always passionate, sometimes deadly serious. Each one is the best and only jollof rice.
An example: A few years ago, around Christmas, my colleague Helene Cooper prepared jollof rice for the Washington bureau of The New York Times. Helene was born in Liberia. She posted a picture of her dish on the social media site then known as Twitter, calling it “the real and righteous Liberian jollof rice. It is unequaled. West African pretenders with your rival nonsense, sit down.”
Helene’s jollof rice won raves in the District that evening, but today I want to turn your attention to Yewande Komolafe’s jollof rice (above). (Yewande grew up in Nigeria, so it’s not for Helene.) Hers is a lovely recipe, perfect for making on a lazy Sunday afternoon, to serve with fried plantains, braised goat or just some chicken thighs tossed in salt, pepper and neutral oil, then roasted crisp.
Another winner from Yewande: skillet chicken with peppers and tomatoes. The peppers and some onions melt down into a silky sauce brightened by sherry vinegar and cherry tomatoes, a perfect foil to the bone-in chicken, excellent with rice and, in my house, an oven-warmed baguette.
Weeknight dinners don’t come better or more easily than with Ali’s midnight pasta with roasted garlic, olive oil and chile, a version of pasta aglio e olio. It’s a little more complex than the original on account of the roasted garlic, but it’s no real chore if you make it in a toaster oven in the morning before work, while you’re reading The Times. (Y’oughta!)
Melissa Clark’s recipe for crispy chickpea stew with greens and lemon is exceptional, with pops of salty feta, slicks of tender greens and the marvelous crunch of the fried chickpeas sprinkled on top. Best of all on a Thursday night: It takes only one pot.
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Now, it’s nothing to do with stinky cheeses or the sound of onions sizzling in butter, but I wanted to share a few more titles I took down over the course of my recent vacation — books worth reading, little gifts every one.
Here’s Siri Hustvedt’s 1996 novel “The Enchantment of Lily Dahl”: passionate, funny and mysterious. Also, Deepti Kapoor’s “Age of Vice,” an epic, luxe thriller set in contemporary India, published this year. I liked Scot Lehigh’s “Just East of Nowhere,” too, a dark coming-of-age tale set in a struggling Maine coastal town, also published this year.
Finally, let’s get super freaky, with Mordecai Richler’s “St. Urbain’s Horseman,” published in 1971. Time-travel to that decade’s weirdness, excess and wants, with plot and comedy to spare. Enjoy one or more of those, cook your jollof and I’ll see you next week.