Thursday 30 November 2023

Smoky Jollof Rice | Easy Delicious Recipe

Jollof rice, a staple in West African cuisine, is renowned for its vibrant, spicy flavour and rich aroma. This recipe adds a delightful twist by roasting the vegetables to infuse a deep, smoky flavour that elevates the dish to new heights. 

Perfect for any occasion, this smoky Jollof rice is not only easy to make but also incredibly delicious.


(Serves 6)

2 large red bell peppers

6 tomatoes 

2 red onions 

1 scotch bonnet chilli 

1/2 tbsp dried thyme 

1 tbsp hot curry powder 

2 bay leaves

1 vegetable stock cube

1 tbsp tomato purée 

Salt, to taste

3 cups Golden Sella Basmati rice

2 cups water 


1. Roughly chop the bell peppers, tomatoes, one of the red onions and scotch bonnet chilli. Place on a lined baking tray, drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil and bake in a pre-heated oven for 25 minutes at 250 degrees Celsius. Once roasted, blend the vegetables until well pureed. 

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot and sauté sliced red onion. Add the blended mixture, along with the seasoning (thyme, curry, bay leaves, stock cube, tomato puree and salt). Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. 

3. Add the rice and 2 cups of water. Stir well to combine all the ingredients. Cover and cook over low heat for 25-30 minutes until the rice is well cooked. Serve with any sides of your choice, such as fried plantain, salad etc.

Vegan Madeleines | Easy Recipe with Signature Bump!

So, my love for French madeleines? It kicked off in a pretty unexpected way. Back in my Oxford days, juggling an English and French degree, I encountered Marcel Proust’s ‘Du côté de chez Swann’ (Swann's Way) on my first year reading list. In the first part of the book, he eloquently describes the power of involuntary memory evoked by the taste of a Madeleine.

It wasn't long before I stumbled upon these petite, shell-shaped cakes in real life. Just around the corner from my college was a quaint delicatessen called Olives. They had these madeleines that were just... wow. I'd grab one (okay, maybe a few) on my way to classes, during late-night study sessions, or whenever I needed a pick-me-up.

Thirteen years later and I finally decided to try making them myself. It started with an impulsive purchase of a madeleine baking pan, fuelled by a mission to master this French treat. However, the added challenge is that I am now vegan, meaning no eggs or butter, both of which are central to the original recipe. The mission was to whip up the perfect vegan madeleine without losing that classic taste and texture, and hopefully achieving the characteristic bump. I came close, but still want to keep trying until I get it just right.

After a couple of tries and some kitchen fails, I’ve come up with a recipe that’s pretty close and delicious, just vegan. It’s still a work in progress, and I will likely update this post when I get it the way I want. 

After posting the initial recipe/results on Instagram, I received a lot of great advice on how to improve the madeleines. Chilling the batter for 1 hour before baking, and baking the madeleines at a high temperature led to even better results! The signature hump formed much better this time. In the updated recipe below, I also added a tablespoon of cornstarch to the batter which I believe gives it some extra lightness. I'm sure I will discover more ways to improve this recipe but for now here's where I'm at:

Signature bump achieved!


120g self-raising flour

1 tbsp cornstarch 

1 tsp baking powder

75g sugar

Pinch of salt

60ml soya milk

60ml plain vegan yoghurt

45ml melted vegan butter

1/4 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat your oven to 250C.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the soya milk, vegan yoghurt, melted vegan butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Then, stir this mixture into the dry ingredients to form a thick cake batter. Cover the bowl and chill the batter in the fridge for 1 hour (you can also make the batter ahead of time and chill overnight).
  4. Grease and flour your madeleine cake tin. Divide the batter among the moulds.
  5. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until the madeleines are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  6. Allow them to cool on a wire rack before enjoying.

Each bite of these vegan madeleines takes me back to those days at Oxford, to the delightful delicatessen, and to the literary journey with Proust that started it all. I hope you find as much joy in baking and savouring these madeleines as I have in perfecting them. Happy baking!