Rice is a staple in the average Nigerian’s diet, so when I say I don’t eat rice the weird looks I get do not surprise me. Of course, that’s no longer true as I’ve now reintroduced rice into my diet but in limited quantities and I always opt for whole grain brown rice. Rice and sauce is one of my favorite ways of enjoying this grain, and not only because it reminds me of home but also because it’s a great dish to build on. You can add plantains for additional sweetness, sautéed spinach for a hearty nutrient dense dish and the list goes on. I love the flavor profiles I’ve created in this bowl. Perfectly cooked brown rice, a rich robust sauce that is just spicy enough, creamy avocado chunks, sweet grilled plantains and some moist well-seasoned chicken breast for added protein.
When Nigerians approach me about starting a healthy lifestyle, they are sometimes averse to the “strange” foods I eat. Quinoa what? Bulgur? NAH. I’m quick to remind them that healthy eating doesn’t necessarily require drastic changes to your diet; you can still eat what you know with a tweak here and there.
- Opt for brown rice instead of white rice. If you find the taste weird or bland, a simple solution is to cook the brown rice in chicken stock or meat stock.
- Replacing vegetable oil with coconut oil is another thing I like to do. Coconut oil is renowned for its nutritional properties and I just love the coconutty flavor it gives, plus a little goes a long way so use in moderation.
- Adding plantains to anything makes it better but be sure you grill and not fry it. Grill alongside some chicken breast or boil some eggs for a protein fix.
I hope these simple tips help you. The tomato sauce ties it all together and I particularly love this recipe, because it’s so quick and easy to make. While the typical Nigerian stew in all its deliciousness requires a lot of simmering time this comes together quickly and is simple delightful.
IngredientsBrown Rice (Serves 3)
- 1-cup brown rice
- 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 can chopped plum tomatoes
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 3 garlic cloves (crushed)
- ½ tsp. ginger paste
- 2 knorr chicken cubes | Nigerian (I buy from Mama’sFoodHub.com)
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 1 whole onion (Sliced thinly in rings)
- 1 whole chilli (chopped)
- Wash the rice and place in a medium sized pan cover with the chicken stock. Cook the rice till it starts to boil then reduce to low heat and let simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, check periodically and add more stock as needed. Once the rice is cooked set aside.
- While the rice cooks, in a large frying pan add the coconut oil and bring to medium heat, then add in the onion slices and sauté till they start to turn slightly brown.
- Add the crushed garlic and ginger and stir quickly to make sure it doesn’t burn, and then add the whole can of chopped tomatoes. You’ll notice the mixture starts to bubble up. Swirl your pan and let cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken cubes, chilli, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir and reduce the heat then allow simmer for 10 – 15 minutes till the color deepens.
- Enjoy and serve with the avocado, plantain and chicken or as you like.