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Jollof Rice Balls with Scotch Bonnet Sauce

by Big Zuu from Big Zuu’s Big Eats

Big Zuu fuses West African and Italian culinary traditions to create these arancini-inspired Jollof rice balls. Served with a fiery Scotch bonnet sauce, these make an excellent party snack or appetiser.


We have taken the most African dish and gentrified it, but don’t worry, my Sierra Leonean elders gave me a pass, and it also tastes nice. This is an embodiment of my love for West African and Italian food. Finally they’ve come together to create this mighty ball of tastiness.

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400g leftover Jollof rice
60g mozzarella, cut into 8 pieces and drained well
1.5l vegetable oil, for deep-frying (if using a saucepan; if using a deep-fat fryer follow manufacturer’s instructions for oil)
50g plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
50g panko breadcrumbs
For the Scotch Bonnet Sauce:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1–2 Scotch bonnet chillies, depending on how hot you like it, pricked
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2.5cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
800g tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 Maggi or other vegetable stock cubes
salt and ground black pepper, to taste

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For the Scotch Bonnet Sauce:

Add the oil to a saucepan and fry the onion over a medium heat for 15 minutes until soft and beginning to caramelise. Add the chillies, garlic and ginger and fry for 2–3 minutes more before adding the tomatoes, 3 tablespoons water, the vinegar, sugar and the stock cubes. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring up to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes to a thick, spicy sauce. Blend to a smooth sauce using a food processor or stick blender. Serve hot.

For the Jollof Rice Balls:

Divide the leftover Jollof into 8 patties. Take a patty in the palm of your hand and place a piece of mozzarella in the centre. Wrap the rice around it using your hand and shape into a ball. Repeat with the rest of the balls and chill in the fridge for 15–20 minutes.

Preheat the oil in deep-fat fryer to 170˚C or heat the oil in a deep saucepan over a medium–high heat to 170˚C.

Put the flour, beaten eggs and panko in three shallow dishes. Roll each rice ball in the flour, then egg and then panko, coating well.

Carefully drop the rice balls in the fryer or saucepan and, working in batches, fry for 3–4 minutes until golden brown. Drain well on kitchen paper and serve immediately with Scotch Bonnet Sauce.

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