Jollof Rice is probably Nigeria’s most famous dish. This one-pot meal is a staple in many West African households and has made its way to the West. Whether you want a simple mid-week dinner or a flavorful contribution to the potluck, you can’t go wrong with Jollof!
You can make your Jollof rice as spicy or as mild as you like. It’s cooked in a rich, tomato-based broth and seasoned with aromatic curry, thyme and bay leaves. Get ready for your kitchen to come alive with the flavors of Lagos!
What is Jollof Rice?
Jollof rice is a popular, well-loved dish that originated in Western Africa. Both Nigeria and Ghana have their own versions of the dish, sparking many debates about which is tastier. Nigerian Jollof is made with long-grain rice simmered in a tomato puree with vegetables and spices. It’s a hearty one-pot meal that can be eaten on its own or as a side dish.
What Type of Rice is Used for Jollof?
When making Nigerian Jollof rice, you’ll want to use long-grain rice for the most authentic results. This sturdy rice absorbs all the flavors of the spices and stew for unbelievable flavor. Prefer to use shorter grain or basmati rice? Go ahead.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Red Bell Peppers
- Habanero Pepper
- Red Onion
- Long Grain Rice
- Vegetable Oil
- Yellow Onion
- Tomato Paste
- Curry Powder
- Dried Thyme
- Bay Leaves
- Chicken Broth or Water
- Salt & Pepper
How to Make Nigerian Jollof Rice
1. To a blender, add the tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion and chili pepper. Blend until smooth.
2. Place a heavy 6-quart pot on medium-high heat. Add the oil and sliced yellow onion. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes stirring regularly until browned on the edges.
3. Add the tomato puree to the pot along with the tomato paste, curry powder, thyme and bay leaves. Bring it to a boil.
4. Add the rinsed rice and broth mixture to a pot and bring it to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Stir the pot to prevent sticking. Simmer 10 minutes more and check whether the rice is tender. Repeat this process until the rice is tender
Tips for the Best Jollof Rice / Party Jollof
- Wash rice before cooking: Don’t skip this important step. Washing your rice removes the extra starch that can affect the flavor and texture of the finished product.
- Prevent your rice from getting mushy: Check the rice halfway through and give it a good stir to prevent it from getting mushy or burned.
Jollof Rice Recipe Variations
- Jollof Rice and Chicken: Add cubes of cooked chicken breast to your jollof rice for a one-pot meal with protein added.
- Jollof Rice with Beef: Nigerian Beef Jollof Rice has succulent pieces of stewed beef stirred into the pot.
- Lamb Jollof Rice: Tender pieces of lamb make the perfect addition to your Jollof Rice. Or, enjoy the lamb on the side.
- Ghana Jollof Rice: Use Basmati rice if you want the Ghanaian version of Jollof Rice. If you want, allow the rice to burn just slightly on the bottom for a crispier texture.
What to Serve with Jollof Rice?
Jollof rice is popularly enjoyed on its own, but makes the perfect side dish beef stew. If you want to keep things traditional, go ahead and serve your rice with dodo (fried plantain) and asun (spicy roast goat). Jollof is also delicious with most proteins such as shrimp, chicken and lamb.
What Does Jollof Rice Taste Like?
Jollof rice is well known for its smoky, spicy taste. This dish is traditionally seasoned with bay leaves, thyme and scotch bonnet pepper and you can really taste the spices in the dish. Of course, the stewed tomato puree is the main feature of this classic one-pot dish.
What is the Difference between Ghanaian and Nigerian Jollof Rice?
There’s a longstanding friendly debate between Nigerians and Ghanaians over who has the best jollof rice. In Ghana, aromatic basmati rice is used, which affects the flavor of the overall dish. Nigerians, on the other hand, tend to use long-grain parboiled rice, which gives their Jollof rice a different taste and texture. There are also variations in the seasonings and spices used.
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Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe
- 3 medium tomatoes chopped, or 16-oz canned tomatoes
- 2 red bell peppers seeded and chopped
- 1 habanero pepper or scotch bonnet chili (see note)
- 1/2 red onion peeled
- 2 cups long grain rice white rice or basmati
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small yellow onion sliced or cubed
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 cup broth chicken or vegetable, or water
- salt and pepper to taste
- To a blender, add the tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion and chili pepper. Blend until smooth.
- Place a heavy 6-quart pot on medium-high heat. Add the oil and sliced yellow onion. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes stirring regularly until browned on the edges.
- Add the tomato puree to the pot along with the tomato paste, curry powder, thyme and bay leaves. Bring it to a boil.
- In the meantime, rinse the rice. Then drain through a sieve.
- Add the rice and broth mixture to the pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Stir the pot to prevent sticking. Simmer 10 minutes more and check whether the rice is tender. Repeat this process until the rice is tender (note that different rice varieties cook at different speeds).
- Optional: For crispy rice on the bottom, raise the heat to medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Serve the rice hot garnished with thinly sliced onion for garnish.
- Broth: If using unsalted broth, add 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Chili pepper: You can use more or less based on how much heat you want.
- Rice Cooker: You can use a rice cooker for this recipe if you have one.