In Nigeria, fried coconut rice is a dish that’s saved for special occasions such as weddings or birthdays, where food is usually served buffet style. Guests line up and have to make a choice between jollof rice and fried rice before selecting any accompaniments to go with it; however, in most cases both are heaped on the plate. True Nigerian fried rice contains beef liver or prawns, but I much prefer it with mushrooms instead. Likewise, the rest of the vegetables in this recipe can be swapped for any others that you prefer. In spring, I swap the green peppers with seasonal asparagus.
Lopè Ariyo's Fried Coconut Rice
- Preparation time: 15 minutes
- Cooking time: 30 minutes
- Total time: 45 minutes
370g long-grain rice or basmati rice
400ml tin coconut milk
1 tbsp groundnut oil or coconut oil
1 chicken stock cube
½ tsp dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
½ red onion, finely chopped
6 closed-cup mushrooms, wiped and chopped
½ green pepper, finely chopped
½ yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground ginger
Salt and white pepper
1. In a large saucepan, bring the coconut milk to the boil along with the stock cube, thyme and bay leaves. Reduce the heat to medium–low and allow the coconut milk to simmer for 5 minutes until it smells slightly fragrant.
2. Meanwhile, rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Drain the rice in a colander, then add it to the coconut milk – it should just about be covered by the liquid. Turn the heat up to medium–high, cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes – you’ll have to stir the rice every so often to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom. Once most of the milk has been absorbed, you’ll find that if you bite on a grain of rice it should softened but still quite al dente and taste slightly nutty. Turn off the heat and set aside for the meantime.
3. Take a large, deep frying pan and heat the groundnut oil or coconut oil over a medium–high heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, peppers and carrot and coat them with the ground coriander, turmeric, garlic powder and ginger. Continuously stir the veggies for 7 minutes until they start to soften. Add the partly cooked rice and season with salt and pepper before reducing the heat to medium–low. Cover the pan with a lid and steam for a further 5–10 minutes, depending on how soft you like your rice.
4. Divide the rice evenly between four plates or place in a large serving dish for the middle of table.