How To Make Nigerian Jollof Rice

Nigerian Jollof Rice recipe

Nigerian Jollof Rice is a popular easy-to-cook dish well-loved in West Africa. It’s also a big hit among members of the African diaspora worldwide. It’s served as a main course for lunch or dinner in Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal, and Mali. The dish is packed with flavour, colour and vegetables.

Jollof rice originates from West Africa, where it’s a prominent staple food. Rice (Oryza sativa) itself originated from Asia. Jollof Rice has several different names, such benachin in Senegal or as riz au gras in other French-speaking countries. Jollof rice comes in a range of flavour variations depending on the country.

In many parts of West Africa, people enjoy rice almost daily with simpler dishes like stew. However, Jollof rice is usually served on special occasions, such as christenings, birthdays, Christmas, and weddings.

Nigerian Jollof rice is not to be confused with Nigerian fried rice (see photo below), which is cooked without tomato but with shrimps, green peas, and other additions.


Here is my signature SIMPLE JOLLOF RICE RECIPE that I prepare for friends and family:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C to roast red bell peppers. This step is optional. Only do it if you like extra smoky party style Jollof rice.
  2. Next, add one can of plum tomatoes, 2 red bell peppers, 1 large onion, and a scotch bonnet pepper to a blender. Blend until you have a smooth, spicy paste.
  3. Add sunflower oil to cover the bottom of a large saucepan and heat over high heat. Once the oil is hot, pour in the blended mixture and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring.
  4. Then, add salt to taste, 1 teaspoons of thyme, 3 knorr cubes, 2 teaspoons of curry powder (optional), 1/4 cup of tomato paste (purée), and 1 to 2 cups of chicken stock. Stir and cook for another 15 minutes.
  5. Add 3 cups of rinsed long grain white rice to the saucepan and stir. Then, add 3 cups of water to cover the rice and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. You may need to check the rice, add an additional cup of water, and stir every 7 minutes to prevent burning.
  6. Finally, add bay leaves and half of a thinly sliced onion (optional), stir and cook over low heat until the rice is tender and flavor-packed.

NB: For a stronger bay leaf flavor add a bay leaf to the mixed pepper sauce (step 4) instead of in the last ten minutes (step 6).

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