Chef Tolu Eros, also known as @thebillionairechef on his socials, is a chef from Lagos, Nigeria.
While the earliest known jollof recipe hails from the Wolof people in Senegal, Chef Eros likes to call his jollof recipe “Unity Rice”, striving to end the jollof wars between Ghana and Nigeria where their feuding recipes are often put against each other for their differences. The dish itself has transcended across most of West Africa, and Eros’ Unity Rice is the bridge between the countries, combining different ingredients and different cooking methods all in one pot.
"While I was growing up, My grandmother had a restaurant in Surulere, Lagos, and I would go over there and have some of her local food, including her staple Jollof dish. None of my memories of the dish stuck out to me until I started making it myself, and I had to learn how to make it over the phone while I was at university. I think it's essential that these original recipes are kept as they are, so that they can be a good reference point for cooks. But as time changes, and as cuisines transcend from culture to culture and country to country, we need to allow for a certain level of adaptation. There are already so many different variations of the same dish, and it's so comforting to eat, and when you’ve got guests over, it's a great way to show people where you’re from."
For the tomato base:
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 large onion
2 habanero chilis
3 large red bell peppers
200ml vegetable or canola oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 root ginger, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp bouillon cube powder
1 tbsp salt
3 tbsp Suya pepper (optional)
1 kg basmati rice
500ml chicken stock
2 dried bay leaves
Add to your blender the tomatoes, 1 onion roughly chopped, the habaneros roughly chopped (and seeds removed if less heat is desired), and the bell peppers. Add a cup of water to the blender to help the vegetables break down, and blend until smooth.
Heat a large pot on the stove on medium-high and add the mixture. Stir frequently and cook down until there is no water remaining, until the mixture has formed the consistency of a thick paste.
Remove from the pot, add the oil, and heat on high. Add the chopped onion, garlic, ginger, and tomato paste. Season the frying mixture with curry powder, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and stock cubes. Fry the mixture for a few minutes until the ingredients begin to soften, then add in the reduced tomato base from earlier.
Add in your butter and mix everything together while it cooks.
Reduce the heat and add in your washed basmati rice. Add your chicken stock, and mix everything together. Cover the pot with tin foil or parchment paper and then a lid - doing this will seal in the maximum amount of moisture. Allow the mixture to steam low and slow. It will be ready when the rice is fluffy and has absorbed all the liquid.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.