Curious shopper: Brixton market provides perfect ingredients to rustle up flavour-filled food


One SWL reporter tested a trusty recipe passed on from a trader.


By Jacqueline Fanchini

In my experience people can sometimes be wary of visiting Brixton, which is a shame as they probably don’t realise that it’s a melting pot of worldwide cultures, well represented by its food market.

The corner streets on either side of the tube station lead onto the market. It spans over a number of roads and passageways, with stalls extending into Brixton Village where most of the small eateries use the on-hand produce.

The smells from these charming locales stir the imagination as they waft out, making the food on sale seem ever more appealing. Sweet potatoes from Jamaica, French cured sausages, Chinese vegetables, Spanish olives and unidentified purple carrots are part the mix and provide the opportunity to try out flavours yet uncharted.

There’s music coming from all sides and a group of young people show off some of their moves. The market mirrors its community and becomes a place that has more to offer than just food.

Still, it’s a great place for a curious shopper. Quite a few of the fruit and vegetables were unfamiliar but the traders were happy to explain where each came from, what it is called, what it tastes like and how it is popularly served.

They also agreed to share their home-cooking recipes, one of which was for Jollof Rice. It’s a West African meal given to me by a Ghanaian I met while looking over some seasoning. The dish consists of your preferred choice of meat and vegetables mixed in with rice and tomato passata.

It allows for a variety of ingredients, which I thought was ideal for my flavour adventure.

Jollof Rice – Serves four

2 chicken breasts

2 Polish cured sausages (optional, preferred meat is to be used)

1 onion, chopped

3 tablespoons tomato purée

3 okras, sliced

1 small white garden egg, sliced

1 handful of susumba (alternatively peas)

½ can of red kidney beans, rinsed

½ can of corn

1 red pepper

2 cans of chopped tomatoes

2 cups of rice

3.5 cups of water

3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil

2 stock cubes

2 bay leaves

2 cloves of garlic

½ red scotch bonnet chilli, deseeded

Chicken seasoning (Maggi cubes, or any readily available seasoning will do)

Salt and pepper to taste

For any amount of cups of rice you make, you have an extra cup and a half of water. That’s the Number One rule.


Season your chicken and other meats then pan fry them. If using sausages, slice them beforehand, everything else is to be fried as a whole and sliced afterwards. Everything must be nicely browned.

Chop up and fry the onion, veg and garlic in about 3-4 tablespoons of hot oil. Don’t worry if it seems like too much oil, it’s there for a reason.

Add a stock cube to this, with a bit of water if it needs dissolving. Then add the 2 raw cups of rice.

‘Fry’ the uncooked rice in with the vegetables, as well as the meats you’ve picked, and add the second seasoning cube. Frying the rice with the veg infuses it with all the other flavours BEFORE it’s cooked.

Boil a kettle and add 3 cups of boiling water, the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, bay leaves and chilli to the mixture. Stir through, cover and leave on high heat for 20 minutes or until the water has disappeared below the rice line.

Remove the lid and stir through to fluff up the rice at the bottom and make sure it all cooks evenly without settling at the bottom. It’s also to check how far cooked it is. Because of the extra ingredients the rice will take longer than usual to cook.

Check the bottom of the pan, if there’s a ‘skin’ of rice stuck to the bottom, you’re doing it right. DON’T scrape it off, it’s what cooks everything else.

Add an extra 1/2 or 2/3 cup of water, then get a piece of kitchen foil and use it to cover the top of your pan, shiny side facing the rice. Pierce a few holes with a fork, cover with a lid, lower the heat and let cook for a further 15 minutes.

Turn the heat off, and leave the kitchen foil on the rice, the trapped steam will continue to cook and fluff up the rice for you. From this point onwards its good to eat.

Bon appétit!

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