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Africa Month: Some of the tantalising rice dishes of Africa

Paella. Picture: Pexels/Boris Hamer

Paella. Picture: Pexels/Boris Hamer

Published May 9, 2022

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Rice can be considered a staple food in Africa because the majority of people on the continent eat this grain in a variety of different ways.

It is filling, versatile, and delicious if cooked well.

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With Africa Month in full swing, below we take a look at some of the popular rice dishes around Africa.

Paella

This popular dish has quite a few regional variations yet many still prefer the original Valencian version.

The recipe requires you to sauté small pieces of rabbit and chicken first, before adding green beans, chopped tomatoes, sweet paprika, saffron, and water to create a flavourful stock.

You then spread the rice – preferably the starchy and absorbent Valencia variety – across the paella pan (a flat, round pan that allows the rice mixture to cook evenly).

Riz gras

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Riz gras, the French term for fat rice, is Burkina Faso's national one-pot dish, consisting of white rice, tomato paste, and vegetables such as eggplants, carrots, onions, chilli peppers, and garlic that are boiled together in a thick rice stew and served with a few strands of raw onions on top.

If meat is used in the dish, it is browned at the beginning of the cooking process.

Peanut oil is heavily used in the making of riz gras, giving it its name.

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Although the dish is not flashy, it is perfect comfort food - proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables all in one dish.

Jollof rice. Picture: Immaculate Bites

Jollof rice

Jollof rice, a mouth-watering spicy delicacy, is one of the world's greatest rice dishes. It was originally from Senegal but has spread to other West African countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameroon, and the Gambia.

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It is basically made by cooking white rice mixed in a savoury and spicy tomato-based sauce - which gives jollof rice its typical deep-red appearance. Almost every West African country has its own version of this world-famous dish.

These variations are possible based on how the ingredients were combined during cooking or the inclusion of optional ingredients which differs from country to country.

The unique combination of spices gives jollof rice a mesmerising aroma that welcomes you when approaching the reception at parties or restaurants.

Palm oil rice

This rice dish is popularly known as concoction rice, mostly because all the ingredients are put in at the same time. It is an alternative to Jollof and is prepared with palm oil and other local ingredients such as dry fish, scent leaves, or pumpkin leaves.

Yellow rice

A traditional favourite of South Africa, yellow rice – known locally as geelrys – gets its name from the vibrant colour of turmeric. Yellow rice is a mixture of basmati rice (although other long grains are sometimes used), sugar, salt, pepper, oil, and of course, turmeric.

Additionally, cardamom and cinnamon can be used to give the dish a nice kick. Sometimes, raisins are also added to enhance the flavour. Yellow rice is usually served with a South African curry dish called bobotie, which is quite similar to moussaka.

Waakye

Although it originated in the northern parts of Ghana, the rice-and-bean-based dish known as waakye is today consumed on a national level. Whether it's eaten for breakfast or lunch, this dish can be made as rich and as filling as one likes by adding an almost unending list of accompaniments.

The most typical ones include fried plantains, the spaghetti-like Talia, a black pepper sauce called shito, boiled eggs, avocados, a tomato-based soup that contains meat, and gari foto - a mashed sauce made with finely grated cassava.

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