Jollof Rice: I can’t think of a more popular West African dish than Jollof rice. It’s popular for good reason — it is delicious!
Jollof Rice Recipe
There are hundreds of different dishes in the world, but there is only a handful that has enough flavor for me to eat alone. A bowl of Jollof rice is one of those dishes. You know, the kind where you can taste the spoon or fork after you’re done with the food? I mean, you’d want to lick it clean. Jollof is deliciously addictive.
Jollof rice is a staple in West African cuisine. It’s made from rice, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and other seasonings. The dish is cooked in one pot. It’s simple and easy to make at home—and the end result is absolutely delicious!
What is Jollof rice?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jollof Rice (Jellof rice) —it is a rich and incredibly rich, aromatic, tasty West African one-pot Meal. It’s similar to Jambalaya but with distinctive African spices. It consists mainly of cooked rice and tomato stew flavored with spices such as thyme, scotch bonnet pepper, onions, and garlic.
The dish is a staple of West African cuisine, particularly that of Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, and Gambia often eaten and enjoyed during holidays, weddings, birthdays, and other special events.
It is a very versatile dish, and it is usually made from scratch using rice, tomatoes, pimento peppers, tomato paste, scotch bonnet, onions, salt, and other spices.
Geographical range and variants
Jollof rice is a delicious royal dish originating in West Africa. It is one of the most common West African dishes eaten in the regions of Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Cameroun, and Liberia. Although it is believed to have originated from the Wolof people in northwestern Senegal.
The recipe varies from country to country, region to region of the continent, but it always starts with a tomato base.
This recipe for jollof rice can be customized in many ways to suit your tastes and preferences, you could add any of your favorite vegetables (diced carrots, green beans, sweet peas, or sweet corn). It can be enjoyed with chicken, beef, lamb meat, goat meat, or fish. I love pairing mine with some fried Plantains, coleslaw, and baked chicken!
The ingredients required for making jollof rice are pretty basic. You probably already have them in your kitchen.
- The main ingredient in jollof rice is, of course, rice. I used long-grain parboiled rice for this recipe, but you can also use basmati. I have a recipe for that here – (basmati Jollof with beef).
- Next up are the canned tomato, fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, scotch bonnet, onions, garlic, and ginger—each of which adds a unique flavor and texture to your dish!
- You’ll also need oil for frying your sauce—any kind of vegetable oil will do.
- Stock—Chicken, beef, or vegetable stock are great choices here for adding depth of flavor.
- And lastly, there’s the seasoning and herbs—curry powder, salt, black/white pepper, bouillon powder, thyme, and bay leaves.
How To Cook Jollof Rice
When cooking Jellof rice, building a flavor base is very important. Don’t be in haste to dump your ingredients in the pot otherwise, you will end up with what we call a ”concoction.” Each step counts, so try to do each of the steps in detail.
- The inevitable foundation for building up the flavor in this meal is to start by sauteeing the Onions. This should take about 3 to 5 minutes. The next thing is to stir in the tomato paste. This adds a deep and rich tomato flavor; I simply fry this for another 5 minutes or thereabout.
- Add the ginger and garlic and cook along with the tomato paste for another two minutes; Actually, by the time this is ready, you will notice it in the smell. If you keep it cooking any longer, you might risk burning them.
- Add the blended peppers. Usually, there is no particular time frame for frying this pepper. I often stop when the sauce becomes really thick, and the oil literally floats on top of the sauce. At this point, most of the water is gone, and the sauce no longer smells raw. Trust me, you will know, but just in case you are still in doubt, I would say maybe 15 to 20 minutes depending on the quantity of water in your blended pepper.
- Finally, in building my flavor, I add the thyme, curry powder, salt, white pepper (good but optional), and seasoning cubes. Adjust the seasoning at this point if there is a need to.
- Once the flavor is on point, then, I stir in the Rice. Make sure you stir the rice properly until you cover each grain of rice with the sauce.
- Now add the chicken stock. Give it a brief stir and cover it up with a tight-fitting lid. If your lid is not fitting enough, simply cover the rice with foil paper before covering it with the lid. This is because Jollof needs a lot of steam in order to turn out well.
- Once the rice comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low immediately and continue to cook until the rice is done, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Serve with Fried Chicken, Spicy Grilled Chicken, Grilled Tilapia Fish, or Gizzards and plantains.
Nigerian Jollof Rice or Ghanaian Jollof Rice?
Who’s Jollof rice is better?
I don’t even want to go into the issue of the trending Jollof wars, especially between Nigeria and Ghana. All I know is that a good cook will make a good-tasting Jollof Rice. In my own opinion, I think it has to do with the cooking abilities of an individual and not a country. Let me know your opinion. 🙂
What type of rice is best for Jollof Rice?
Though quite a lot of rice types can be used to make Jollof rice. I have used the long grain parboiled rice for this recipe – This rice is soaked, steamed, and dried. Then the hull is removed to make parboiled rice. The steaming enables the rice to absorb nutrients and changes the starch so that it cooks into a firmer, less sticky dish of rice than regular white rice. I also have a beef jollof rice recipe that I prepared using basmati rice. You may want to check it out.
If living in the united states, I will recommend using the parboiled rice from the African store or Uncle Ben’s parboiled rice (converted brand). It doesn’t stick or clump up like most other rice brands. It cooks up grain for grain. Some stores like Walmart also carry a similar brand for a fraction of the price.
Wiki has a very good article on Jollof Rice that might interest you. I enjoyed reading it, you might as well. 🙂
How to serve Jollof Rice
We usually serve Jollof with Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Goat Meat, Fish, or moi moi and sometimes with a side of fresh creamy Coleslaw or Nigerian salad. In west Africa, a party such as a wedding ceremony or a naming ceremony is not complete without this meal. It is a sure party pleaser.
My final thoughts on making a great Jollof Rice
I have another Jollof rice recipe that I made with beef and basmati rice. It’s party style! I took it a step further by roasting the bell peppers before blending and cooking to create the much-desired smoky taste. I’m sure you will love it!
If you are not a fan of this stovetop method, or you simply want to be adventurous, or perhaps you just like to vary the way you cook Jollof rice. Then, you can try it out. Oven-baked Jollof Rice. You can also check for more delicious Nigerian recipes here.
Other Rice recipes you might want to try:
- Coconut Fried Rice– Rice cooked in broth and coconut milk. Simply delish!
- Easy shrimp pineapple fried rice – Ready in about 30 minutes
- Basmati Beef Jollof rice – Made with roasted bell peppers
- Nigerian fried rice – Readers’ favorite
- Dirty Rice with Sausage and Ground Beef – tasty and delicious
- One-pot chicken and Rice – Another one you need to try
- Chicken fried rice – So easy and delicious!
- Hearty mushroom rice – Not your average mushroom Rice
- East African Pilau – You will love this!
- Baked Seafood Jambalaya – a twist on the tradition Jambalaya
- Homemade Chicken And Rice Soup – a comforting meal for all seasons
Nigerian Jollof Rice
For the sauce
- 3 red bell pepper
- 3 Plum tomatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 2 scotch bonnet/habanero use less if you don't like it spicy
- 1/4 cup water
For the Jollof
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger grated
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1 tablespoon curry Powder
- 1 teaspoons salt or add to taste
- white Pepper or black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder or 3 cubes
- 4 cups long grain rice rinsed and drained
- 3-4 cups chicken stock
- 1 large tomato sliced
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter at room temperature – optional
- First, make the tomato-based sauce by blending together the red bell peppers (pimento), tomatoes, onion, and scotch bonnet.
- Heat the cooking oil in a large pan over medium heat, then add the diced onions and let them cook for about 3 minutes or until they are soft.
- Next, add the tomato paste and fry for about 5 minutes. Then stir in garlic, ginger, and bay leaves—leave to cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add the blended sauce and allow the pepper to cook until the water is reduced and the sauce become thick —about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Season with thyme, curry powder, bouillon cubes, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook for another 2 to 5 minutes.
- Add the rinsed rice to the sauce and stir until it is well coated with the sauce. Then add the chicken stock, stir briefly, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and bring to a quick boil over high heat.
- Once it begins to boil—after about 3 to 5 minutes, reduce the heat immediately to low and steam until the rice is done—about 30 minutes.
- Add the butter, sliced tomato, and onions, stir together briefly and turn off the heat. Cover it immediately so that the heat remaining in the rice can steam up the vegetables a little.
- Serve with sweet fried plantains, roasted chicken, or salad.
- Remove the bay leaves once the rice is done. However, if you can’t find it, don’t be tempted to dig through it since over-stirring will cause the rice to break. Just leave it and remove it whenever you find it.
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