Photos by Reyer Boxem

Casa Mundo

‘I asked for more spiciness’

Photos by Reyer Boxem
13 October om 12:03 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 24 October 2022
om 11:30 uur.
October 13 at 12:03 PM.
Last modified on October 24, 2022
at 11:30 AM.
Avatar photo

Door Rob van der Wal

13 October om 12:03 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 24 October 2022
om 11:30 uur.
Avatar photo

By Rob van der Wal

October 13 at 12:03 PM.
Last modified on October 24, 2022
at 11:30 AM.

Caleb’s Nigerian jollof rice with stew (and roasted chicken)

Unfortunately, Caleb kept no quantities of ingredients.

Long-grain rice
Bell pepper
Vegetable oil
Onions (diced)
Tomato paste
Curry powder
Bay leaves
Ground white pepper (not too much if you don’t like it spicy)
Chicken bouillon cubes
Green peas

Madame Jeanette

Wash and drain the rice. Put the tomatoes, bell pepper and garlic in a blender and grind to a paste. Put oil in the pan, heat, add diced onions. After 2-3 minutes add tomato paste and stir. Let this sit for 3-5 minutes.

Add the tomato-bell pepper blend. After a few minutes of stirring, add curry powder, bay leaves, white pepper and chicken bouillon cubes. Cover it and let it cook for 10-15 minutes.

Add the rice to the pan. Stir. Make sure the stew covers the rice (or add more water). Add the mushrooms and green peas. Cover the pan, turn or stir intermittently until the rice is done (see package for duration).

If desired, serve with oven-baked chicken thighs and legs rubbed with curry powder.

‘Would you like to play a game of pre-dinner table tennis?’ Arïen asks. The students in Casa Mundo in the Grunobuurt make a real competition out of it, he explains. ‘Although I can never beat Myunghun.’ And indeed: his South Korean housemate is smashing like crazy, making his opponents feel beaten from the start.

It is no coincidence that Arïen, Myunghun, and their twelve fellow housemates live here. Casa Mundo is located in a former church, owned by a Christian organisation, Ruimzicht, that bought the building when it became redundant as a house of God.


‘This place is a so-called convivium: a group of people living together’, Arïen explains. It also means living here comes with certain rules. There is a weekly house evening, which is tonight, to encourage the group feeling. And you need to have some sort of Christian background.

Our steps echo through the building as we take the stairs to an indoor balcony in the big hall that leads to fourteen rooms – each with its own bathroom – across two floors. The church seats are still present here, but they are now used to dry clothes and bed sheets. ‘It’s nice to have such a big indoor space, although we hardly use it’, Arïen says. ‘Although, recently we threw paper planes from here.’

Casa Mundo is highly international. Eight of the currently fourteen residents are from abroad. They’re getting their master’s degree or doing a PhD in theology at the Protestant Theological University, which is connected to the university. This Wednesday, residents from India, Ghana, Germany, Nigeria, and South Korea join the table. Special guest: Adam, a 42-year-old preacher from Ghana and Casa Mundo housemate until last July.

Restaurant kitchen

In the old church kitchen, the head chef of the day, Caleb, is supervising two big pots of boiling rice and a simmering vegetarian stew. The kitchen has two stoves and is nearly as big as a restaurant kitchen. Today, it is filled with housemates helping out, cutting ingredients and stirring in the pots. On the other side of the room, chicken wings are going into the oven to get their crunchy crust. ‘Almost finished’, Caleb says.

When all the plates and pans are placed onto a big square table in the huge common space – a former activities room – the last of the eleven housemates drop in. Then the group goes silent and starts to pray.

The dish is jollof rice, a recipe from Caleb’s home country of Nigeria. It is made with tomatoes, onions and loads of white pepper to make it spicy. And spicy it is. More than it should be, even. When the dinner starts, Tirsa admits: ‘I encouraged the chef to add more spiciness.’ Meanwhile, most of the students at the table are craving milk to soothe their throats. Sweat is dripping from Myunghun’s forehead.


Fortunately, the meal is completed with a flavourful and mildly spiced chicken and a stew of mushrooms, spring onions and gravy. The chicken especially is in great demand. So are the grapes that follow for dessert. ‘I first thought of strawberries and yoghurt,’ says Shinato, ‘But then I thought, it’s grape season now, so I bought this.’

When the dishes have been returned to the kitchen, the group moves to a set of couches on the other side of the room. It’s time for the limo: the liturgical moment to reflect on the day. The first round is filled with many instances of ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’. 

Myunghun has a practical matter to discuss: ‘I wanted to know when I should clean the house, but the schedule was impossible to understand. Could anyone explain to me how this works?’ Arïen nods. ‘Of course. And I just remembered that I haven’t been inaugurated to the house yet.’ He has a suggestion how that would work. ‘I, Arïen, hereby declare that Arïen will stick to the rules of the house’, he laughs. ‘In Latin.’

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Photo by Reyer Boxem