Zoe Adjonyoh, who runs her eponymous restaurant in Brixton, talks Christmas in Ghana and shares one of her favourite recipes for family gatherings.
25 Nov 2016
Christmas is taken very seriously in Ghana. Pretty much everyone in my grandma’s neighbourhood in Kaneshie goes to church on Christmas Eve for a choir service, and there’s usually some drumming and dancing. On Christmas Day, churches are packed from the rafters with people in colourful traditional dress. There are always plenty of different foods, including groundnut soup, fufu, okra soup, stews of either chicken, goat or beef, and of course jollof – the party rice pulled out for any special occasion!
My dad’s chicken stew and jollof was a staple of my childhood diet. It’s a super comforting and wholesome meal with a decent kick behind it that isn’t too spicy.
Our menu at Brixton is always a mix of traditional and new; we want to bring Ghanaian avours and ingredients to as many people as possible.
Chicken stew with jollof rice (serves 6)
|For the stew||For the jollof spice mix||For the jollof sauce (makes 1 litre)|
|2 large onions, finely chopped||15g ground coriander||
|Olive or groundnut oil||1/4 tsp cooking salt||
1 large onion
|6-8 chicken thighs or drumsticks||1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper||1/2 tbsp curry powder|
|2 garlic cloves, finely chopped||1 tsp dried ground prawn, shrimp or crayfish powder, scant (optional)||1/2 tbsp chilli powder|
|1 tbsp thyme leaves||25g ground ginger||2.5cm piece of ginger, grated|
|1 large bay leaf||45g garlic powder||1 garlic clove, crushed|
|5-6 guinea peppers, crushed||20g dried chilli flakes||1 red Scotch Bonnet chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped (optional)|
|2 tbsp jollof dry spice mix||35g dried thyme||25g thyme leaves (optional)|
|1 tsp sea salt||25g ground cinnamon||1 tbsp jollof dry spice mix, heaped|
|1 tsp hot chilli powder||15g ground nutmeg||400g can chopped tomatoes|
|1 tsp curry powder||1 tbsp tomato puree, heaped|
|500ml jollof sauce||Sea salt, to taste|
|300g basmati or long-grain white rice||100ml good quality chicken or vegetable stock|
|Parsley or coriander, to garnish|
For the jollof dry spice mix
Mix together all of the ingredients for the jollof dry spice mix in a bowl. Store any unused spice mix in an airtight container in a cool, dark place and use within a few months.
For the jollof sauce
Heat enough sunflower oil to cover the bottom of a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and sauté over a medium heat until translucent. Stir in the curry and chilli powders and gently cook for a further two minutes.
Add the ginger, garlic, Scotch Bonnet, thyme (if using) and jollof dry spice mix and stir well. Next, add the tomatoes and tomato purée, sea salt and stock, and stir once more before blending thoroughly with a stick blender, until smooth.
Simmer over a medium-low heat for around 40 minutes. Season to taste. Excess sauce can be left to cool in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days, or freeze for future use.
For the stew
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Meanwhile, sweat half of the chopped onion in a little oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Add the chicken, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, guinea peppers, Scotch Bonnet and one tablespoon of the jollof dry spice mix. Season and stir well.
Pour in enough water to cover the ingredients and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
Remove the chicken from the pan, and drain the broth into a jug to use with the rice. Place the chicken on a baking tray and drizzle with the oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
In the same pan you used to cook the broth, add four tablespoons of oil. Add the remaining chopped onion and sauté over a medium heat for a few minutes until soft. Stir in the remaining jollof dry spice mix, the chilli and curry powder and add 350ml of the jollof sauce. Then stir the broth into the pan.
Wash the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear, then drain and stir into the pan. Stir to coat. Ladle in the remaining jollof sauce without stirring, then reduce the heat and cover the pan with foil and the lid. Cook for 15-20 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Stir through with a fork to fluff up the rice.
By now, the chicken should be perfectly crisp. Serve the rice with the chicken pieces on top, scattered with the chopped herbs to garnish.