Fried rice is one of the most popular foods enjoyed Nigeria. It is sometimes eaten as a meal at home, but more often eaten at festive occasions or parties; and in fact; I will say, it only comes second to jollof rice as a party food. Nigerian fried rice is typically cooked with liver and prawns, but these could be substituted with other proteins.
I prepared my fried rice recipe with mixed seafood, and without stock cubes. It is easy to cook and requires only one pot. There’ s no need for parboiling of the rice or frying the vegetables separately. This recipe is perfect for those week nights when you need to whip up something very quickly.
Spices Used For Nigerian Fried Rice
Mild curry powder and thyme are two of the main ingredients of Nigerian fried rice. These, along with the vegetables are responsible for the signature flavour of the dish. The curry powder gives it the yellow/greenish yellow colour associated with the dish. Depending on who’s cooking, additional herbs or spices may also be added to the fried rice recipe.
I added a little turmeric to my special fried rice recipe, to give it a more vibrant colour. I also tempered the cooking oil with cinnamon stick and bay leaves for added flavour, as I didn’t use bouillon cubes.
Why Does Nigerian Fried Spoil Quickly?
One of the questions that gets asked a lot is why the Nigerian fried rice spoils quickly. People tend to handle fried rice more carefully than white rice or even jollof rice because it is notorious for going bad very quickly.
Well, uncooked rice contains spores of a micro-organism known as bacillus cereus which can survive cooking. When rice is kept at room temperature in a warm environment; the spores multiply very quickly; make the food go bad and produce toxins.
Added ingredients of Nigerian fried rice also contribute to quick spoilage. Proteins and vegetables have a higher water content than the rice. High-water activity is required by food spoilage micro-organisms to thrive; hence why they multiply more quickly in fried rice and cause spoilage.
To prevent spoilage of the fried rice, keep, and consume hot. If not eating immediately, keep the pan opened to encourage steam loss; which causes increased moisture content. Do not keep fried rice at ambient temperature for more than two hours. Make sure to transfer the rice into a refrigerator within two hours, if you are storing.
How To Make Nigerian Fried Rice
The spices and herbs used to prepare this recipe are enough to give the delightful taste of fried rice that we are used to without the addition of bouillon cube.
It is important to monitor the rice while cooking; and to also add the stock, a little at a time, so the rice doesn’t become too soft or soggy.
For this fried rice recipe, I tempered cinnamon and bay leaves to add more “oomph” to the taste. This is a trick I learnt from my Indian friend, where whole spices are fried in oil to release the essential oils, and therefore add more flavour to the food. You only need to leave the spices in the oil for a very short period or they start to burn, which then imparts a bitter taste
I like to use golden basmati rice because it is light and fluffy. You can use your preferred rice type for the recipe.
Nigerian Fried Rice
- 3 tablespoons Oil
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 Onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon Mild curry powder
- ½ teaspooon Thyme
- ½ teaspoon Chilli flakes
- 1 cup Rice uncooked
- 4 cups Stock
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup Mixed seafood
- 10 Green beans sliced
- ½ cup Green peas
- ½ cup Chopped Carrots
- 1 Red pepper cut into cubes
- 1 Yellow pepper cut into cubes
- Rinse the rice and discard the water. Repeat until the water is no longer cloudy, which means all of the residual starch have been washed off. Pour in a colander and allow to drain.
- Heat three tablespoons of oil in a pan under medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Leave in the oil for 30 secs.
- Add the onions into the pan and stir until fragrant.
- Pour in the mild curry powder, chilli and thyme and stir for about 10 secs; then add the drained rice into the pot and stir for the spices to coat the rice. Stirring will also prevent burning.
- Pour the stock in when the rice grains start to crackle.
- Add some salt to taste.
- Cover the pan allow to cook for about 10 mins.
- Pour in the mixed seafood.
- Add more stock if the liquid in starts to dry out, while the rice is still hard. The key is adding the water in smaller quantities, so you don’t add too much.
- When the rice has absorbed most of the cooking water and is nearly done; pour the vegetables into the pot, and cover without mixing them in. The steam will cook the vegetables.
- When all the water has been absorbed and the rice is ready, mix the vegetables into the rice; and leave for 5 mins for the flavours to develop.