Location: West Africa
Population: 4.5 million
Geography: Plains and low mountains with some rainforest covering
Language: Liberian English
Signature flavours: Peanut, thyme, cabbage, rice, root vegetables, chicken, shrimp
Liberian recipes were a little hard to come by, until I stumbled upon a large list of dishes on a website called Liberian Forum. By all accounts, jollof rice is a must for a traditional Liberian meal. The other two dishes in my lineup were selected as complements to the jollof.
Jollof Rice: A staple in many West African regions, this is a sort of pilaf mixed into a tomato and bell pepper stew, with sautéed meat (I used shrimp).
Prep and cooking time: 40 min
Eggplant Fritters: Crispy and savoury, these deep-fried snacks are made from pureed eggplant, egg, and flour batter.
Prep and cooking time: 60 min
Stewed Mango with Cloves: Chunks of ripe mango swimming in peach syrup, and spiced with clove.
Prep and cooking time: 20 min
The Shopping List
Eric and I are discovering that the more you cook, the more ingredients you have readily on hand. This was the case for my Liberian ingredient list. Having stocked our cupboards for a few other West African assignments, I just had to pick up a bit of produce and I was all set.
The jollof rice had a number of steps to juggle: cook the dry rice in broth; rinse and peel the shrimp; sauté the veggies; boil off the sauce’s excess liquid; and combine the lot. It took the most time of the three dishes, but was absolutely worth it. The broth-cooked rice was very savoury, and there was a nice creaminess to the dish. The flavours of the bell peppers and onions came out, along with a little kick from some hot pepper flakes. The shrimp were juicy, and the perfect meaty feature for this dish.
The eggplant fritters were a bit of a question mark for me. I have a spotty record when it comes to deep-frying. Also, the batter seemed far too runny to fritter-ize, so it was with doubt that I dropped the first spoonful of eggplant into the hot oil. Surprise — they came out lovely and brown and crispy, with a little bread-y bounce to them! They were very eggplant-forward, and could have used an accompanying dip, so we scooped up tomato-y chunks of stew with them.
“Who knew mango and clove went together so well?” said Eric, after our first bite of stewed mango. He was right — the dessert was really good. The juicy, syrupy mango, punctuated by the sweet pepperiness of clove, was a lovely end to a delicious Liberian feast.
Disclaimer: I’m not a professional chef. I’m just a passionate cook with a curiosity for flavours I’ve never tried. For great recipes from gifted local cooks, follow the links above.
One Comment Add yours
sounds Delicious!! Your place for dinner the next time we come in.