Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Out of Africa Best of Flavor 2017

Virginia Tech's African Jollof Chicken with masala chai sauce and burnt grape tomatoes
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Dell Peters

You know flavor preferences have shifted when student diners can’t get enough of an African chicken dish. But that’s the story playing out at college campuses across the country.

Dell Peters, Chef de Cuisine at Virginia Tech Dining Services, says the African Jollof Chicken, a creation from Executive Chef Randall Van Dyke, is a huge hit. “Virginia Tech encompasses a global community, and we find our students are hungry for regionally specific global fare,” says Peters.

“We are constantly expanding our authentic Asian and Latin offerings, but our growing international community means that we are also seeking cuisine from all over the world to meet student demand.”

The African Jollof Chicken starts with rice that’s steeped in masala chai tea and flavored with Sriracha, garlic, onion and green pepper. Baked chicken thighs are seasoned with coriander, white pepper and salt. The sauce over top is made with heavy cream, masala chai tea and honey. Burnt grape tomatoes tossed with fresh rosemary, thyme and parsley finish the dish.

“The masala chai tea brings a wonderful warmth and depth of flavor to the rice base, while remaining true to the flavors of the region,” says Peters. “We used a North African seasoning profile on roasted chicken thighs and burnt grape tomatoes to round out the plate. The cream sauce makes the dish come alive, bringing all of the flavors on the plate together. This collaborative innovation helped create an incredible dish.”

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