To celebrate International School Meals Day, the charity Chefs in Schools is sharing two school lunch recipes which are popular with pupils – Jollof Rice and Pav Bhaji.
School chefs in London, Sheffield and Bournemouth will be cooking these. We hope you’ll try them at your schools. If you do, send us your photos and let us know what the pupils thought.
Nicole Pisani, co-founder of Chefs in Schools, explains why they’re sharing these recipes and why everyone should celebrate ISMD 2022:
School food, for us, is always more than just a meal. It is a chance to fuel the future and pass on knowledge. Every school lunchtime offers an opportunity to teach children about food. Curiosity can be fired up by seeing a new ingredient or trying a twist on a favourite dish. This is why we believe so passionately in ensuring all school kitchen teams are given the training, support and tools they need to cook exciting, fresh food that children look forward to eating.
To celebrate International School Meals Day, we are sharing one dish which never fails to spark conversations at schools. And, also, a plate of food which shows how lunch can celebrate those in the school community.
Toni’s Jollof Rice
This dish was added to the menu at Gayhurst Community School, part of the LEAP Federation, in Hackney, back in 2014.
I had only just moved into school food then, having been Head Chef at NOPI. I’d wanted to change my focus and find a role that gave something back. When I arrived as Head Chef, at Gayhurst, the multicultural kitchen were battling to cook British food for a diverse school community. When I suggested they cook a menu from home, Toni – a school kitchen assistant, made her jollof rice and it went down a storm. It’s been on the menu ever since.
We’ve found this dish never fails to create conversations in school kitchens – how people cook it at home, or which restaurants serve the best version, or little twists you can try. It is perfect for allowing creativity and the sharing of ideas.
This International School Meals Day, we’re looking forward to seeing how schools tweak this recipe, if they add different vegetables, fish, chicken, or a cheese – like halloumi – to the dish. And, of course, we are keen to hear what the children say about it.
To cook this dish at home, click here for a PDF of the recipe to feed six.
Here’s how we do it to feed 100 children in schools.
- 6 red peppers, roughly chopped
- 5 fresh chillies, deseeded
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2kg diced onions
- 300g tomato paste
- 1.5litres of tomato passata
- 4litres chicken stock (or vegetable)
- 4.5kg basmati rice
- Fry onions in some oil until golden in colour.
- Blitz all other ingredients except rice. Add them to the onion.
- Wash the rice well.
- Parboil rice.
- When all water has evaporated, add your paste and continue to cook the rice with the lid on until cooked through.
- We like to serve it with pot roasted chicken.
This dish started as a thank you.
Covid had left the kitchen team at St Ann’s School short staffed. Anthony stepped up to be their assistant for a little while. To thank him, Head Chef Grace and Sous Chef Alex made a meal in his honour – Pav Bhaji, one of his favourite dishes from back home in Mumbai. Sous Chef Alex said it was one of the most enjoyable school lunches he’d made. For pudding they had Sevia – a cardamom vermicelli noodle dish.
The team at St Ann’s have often served celebratory dishes, called community meals, for members of staff. They’ve cooked Sudanese food to honour Salma – serving up okra stew, fattoush and vine leaves. For Troy, they cooked his favourite recipes from Taiwan – three cup chicken with rice and greens. Homemade fresh silken tofu, drenched in cool ginger syrup.
And they like to grow food too – a herb garden has been created in the grounds.
St Ann’s is a SENS school where they’ve decided to put food at its heart. We love the work they do here and hope to share more recipes with you for next International School Meals Day!
Below is the Pav Bhaji recipe to feed 100 kids. At St Ann’s they use dessert spoons as they have so many lying around!
- 7 large black cardamom (finely ground)
- 5 dessert spoon cumin (coarsely ground)
- 4 dessert spoon fennel (coarsely ground)
- 4 dessert spoon coriander (finely ground)
- 25 cloves (finely ground)
- 7 dessert spoon dried mango (or some tamarind)
- 3 dessert spoon cinnamon ground
- 3 dessert spoon red chilli powder
- 5 dessert spoons Kasuri methi
- 5 dessert spoons of turmeric
- 1.5 kg unsalted butter
- 7.5kg potatoes
- 3kg onions fine chopped
- 5kg tomatoes tinned
- 1kg peas
- 1kg chickpeas
- 3 cauliflowers
- 10 Green peppers
- 200g ginger paste
- 200g garlic chopped fine or as a paste
- 50g salt (adjust to taste)
- 100g veg stock powder
- Boil the potatoes, cauliflower, chickpeas and peas in stock powder until soft. Drain (save the water) Mash until coarse.
- Fry the ginger/garlic paste in butter, add chopped green pepper and onion. Fry until some of the edges turn lightly golden.
- Purée the tomatoes and add the Pav Bhaji masala, turmeric, mango powder and the salt.
- Cook for 30 mins until the oil separates.
- Add the mashed vegetables. Cook for 15 mins, add the kasuri methi.
- Serve with toasted milk buns (Pav), coriander, chopped onion, a wedge of lemon and a knob of butter!
If you’re not familiar with pav buns – these are Indian rolls made with milk. They are soft and perfect for absorbing sauces without going soggy.
If you want to make these recipes in your school setting, click here to download the recipes that feed 100 people
For anyone who wants to try Toni’s Jollof Rice recipe at home, served with chicken, you can click here for a more detailed version from the Chefs in Schools cookbook Feed Your Family.
For more information and resources about Chefs in Schools visit www.chefsinschools.org.uk