On this day, 1st October 1960, Nigeria gained her independence from the British Colonial masters. It is a day of great celebration of things past and more to come in the future. Nigerians fly the green-white-green flag with pride and the same goes for our food. The land is green; rich in culture, people and resources. We have a lot to be thankful for. We love our food, especially our Jollof Rice. But since Jollof rice – the well known tomato based one pot rice dish has been awarded it’s special day of recognition, what better day for me to share my recipe for Green fried rice. Yes! Its green, and its good.
I have always been bemused by people’s obsession with rice, especially with Nigerians and white rice. Some people cannot go a day without eating rice. I believe it is the single biggest culprit for the pot bellies on Nigerian men.
This is not to say that there is no rice in my kitchen cupboard; the food lover that I am, my cupboards in Nigeria and in England are well stocked with favourites such as, white and brown basmati rice, wild rice, long grain brown rice, local Nigerian rice of all kinds and my recent find, black rice. Although, these different types of rice complement different types of dishes, I will always encourage eating more brown rice because of the high fibre and lower carbohydrate content and because it does keep one fuller for longer, thus avoiding unnecessary snacking.
A wonderful range of rice is grown in Nigeria, despite the challenges faced in the agricultural sector, the rice can be cleaned with little or no milling and polishing leaving it a brown or off-white colour, which maintains its high fibre content. The only award you get for eating the cheaper and better looking South East Asian rice that has been sold cheaply to us years after harvesting, is a pot belly. Make no mistake as I am not referring to the fragrant basmati, which is rather pleasant, light, and more easily digestible, although with a hefty price tag to match. In England, basmati is much less expensive than it is in Nigeria and so it is our rice of choice back home in Sussex.
Seeing my husband pick up a pot of freshly cooked white rice and happily scuffing down a spoon or two, I realised that this firm favourite is here to stay; in Nigeria, in the world, and in my house in Sussex. Since he loves rice so much, I thought, why not make it even healthier, and so I created recipes like this fried rice with spinach, moringa and spring onions, filled with the goodness of these delicious and complementary greens.
For this dish, almost half of the quantity of rice is replaced with the greens which are just great for the gut. Nigeria blessed with an abundance of greens such as moringa, spinavh and pumpkin leaves to name a few. When I wrote this recipe, little did I know of the unforeseen tomato crisis that would befall Nigerians, thus making the beloved Jollof rice rather expensive to cook because of its tomato base. My green fried rice is easy anf costs a lot less less to cook. You can make it your own by adding chillies, more onions, basil, chicken, beef or prawns. No matter where you are, for the love of rice, go green with this nutrition packed and delicious green fried rice.
Happy Independence day Nigeria!!!
Cooking time: 3 – 5minutes
Feeds: As many hungry tummies as a medium pot can feed / 8
1 medium pot cooked rice
2 tbs of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp dried red pepper/red chilli
2 chicken / vegetable stock cubes
4 handful chopped spinach
1 handful moringa leaves or 3 tbs moringa powder
1 handful chopped spring onions
Salt to taste
- In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add the minced garlic. Cook for a minute under low heat to extract the oils from the garlic. Avoid burning by stirring. Turn up the heat to medium and add the washed and chopped greens – spinach, moringa and spring onions. Stir and leave to cook for a minute.
- Add the dried red pepper, stock cubes, ginger and stir again. Add salt if needed. I always say, make sure to taste as you cook to avoid using too much salt. Carefully scoop the cooked rice into the pot of greens, and stir until you have successfully mixed all the contents properly. Remember, our goal is to substantially reduce the quantity of rice by adding the greens, so try not to mix in too much white rice before it turns more white than green.
- Cover the pot to allow the rice and greens to continue to steam as you take the pot off the heat. Eat with your favourite beef stew, lamb, roast chicken or even fish dish. Remember to add your little twist to my recipe and make it your own!