Jollof Rice Recipe

Jollof Rice Recipe is a true West African classic and here is my take on it!  Fragrant rice is steeped in rich ingredients like meat stock, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and spicy chilies adding an incredible depth of flavor. 

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A bowl of jollof rice on the table with bay leaves on top.

I, of course, knew my roots could be traced back to Africa but finding out more specifics about where on this gigantic continent my ancestors were located was amazing. Discovering that a large amount of my heritage existed in Mali, Congo, Ghana, and Nigeria was enlightening. I wanted to start making recipes that reflected this revelation and connected me to my roots. This jollof rice recipe, which is a favorite of mine, seemed like a perfect one to start with.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Each spoonful is packed with subtle spice and ready to be shared!
  • A flavorful change to rice for meals!
  • Easy to make rice dish the whole family will love.
Half of a bowl of jollof rice on the table at an angle with bay leaves on top.

What is Jollof Rice?

Jollof rice is a delicacy that began in West Africa, but because of frequent cultural exchange amongst various regions, the recipe continues to spread far and wide. It is considered a celebratory dish and popular in West African nations like Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal.

Because there are so many variations, this jollof rice recipe is probably a combination of a lot of different interpretations.  There are ongoing debates across West Africa that argue which region prepares the best version of jollof rice.

Rich in flavor and history, spicy jollof rice is considered pretty sacred amongst the African community so I knew I needed to give it great respect when trying to recreate a version for my website.  

Ingredients in Jollof Rice Ghana

The base of this dish is fragrant rice steeped in rich ingredients that are fairly common and easy to find. Here’s what you need:

Ingredients to make jollof rice on the table.
  • Aromatics: Garlic, fresh ginger, and onions are sauteed at the start to give the rice an excellent flavor base.
  • Tomatoes: I prefer using canned crushed tomatoes. They mostly cook into the rice leaving small pieces, rather than large chunks in the rice which I prefer. The tomatoes will add a bit of sweetness to balance out the heat of the chili.
  • Spicy chilies: The rice is traditionally on the spicy side of things. I use habanero pepper for its unique fruity flavor but feel free to adjust the amount added depending on your preference for heat.
  • Chicken stock. Gives the rice more depth of flavor though you can use a vegetable-based stock for a vegan version.
  • Basmati rice: Cooks up nice and fluffy.
  • Spices and herbs: We will use curry powder, dried thyme, smoked paprika, and a fresh bay leaf to deepen the flavor, making it warmer, smokier, and brighter

How to Make Jollof Rice

My easy jollof rice recipe is inspired not only by my personal background but by that of the many before me that stood over open fires and stoves stirring pots of jollof for their families, neighbors, and friends.

The flavors truly come together perfectly in this one-pot meal.  It sort of reminded me of my Spanish Chicken and Rice as far as similar flavors. 

  1. Cook the onions in the olive oil in a large pot until softened. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds to release their fragrance. Stir frequently so they don’t burn!
  2. Add the rice and stir it in the pot to toast it.
  1. Add the stock, crushed tomatoes, seasoned salt, smoked paprika, curry powder, thyme, paprika, and bay leaf to the pot. Stir everything together and once it boils, cover it with a lid and cook until the liquid evaporates and the rice is tender.
  2. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to rest with the lid on. Remove the bay leaf and stir everything together. Serve it up garnished with parsley and bay leaves.

Expert Tips

  • Be sure to allow the dish to rest after cooking. This gives it the time needed to not only cool down but also fully marry together each ingredient and allow all the flavors to meld.
  • Store the leftovers in the fridge for up to four days in an airtight container.
  • For a less spicy version, use less of the habanero. Don’t forget to also remove all the seeds and veins.
  • Serve jollof rice with fried plantains, stewed goat, roast chicken, oxtails, or short ribs. It is absolutely perfect to serve with these dishes. Each bite is magical. You can see why it has existed for many centuries.

FAQs

What does jollof mean?

The word “jollof” comes from the language of the Wolof people, originally meaning “one pot”. I learned in my research that apparently the Wolof people were a predominant race that operated a powerful empire between 1360 and 1549. Before their downfall, the Wolof succeeded in spreading their culture, including their beloved Jollof rice. Wolof people still exist in present-day Mali in West Africa. Today, jollof rice is eaten all over West Africa in Mali, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, and Cameroon. Each grain of rice is laced with the heritage of wherever it’s prepared, and its irresistible taste is relished all over Africa.

Nigerian Jollof Rice or Ghanaian Jollof Rice?

No rivalry is bigger than between Nigeria and Ghana. They each offer a unique interpretation that is slightly different but both are sensational.

A bowl of easy jollof rice on the table with a spoon in the bowl.

More Rice Recipes

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A dark colored bowl of jollof rice recipe on the table garnished with fresh bay leaves and ingredients on the table around the bowl.

Jollof Rice Recipe

Jollof rice is a true West African classic. Fragrant rice is steeped in rich ingredients like meat stock, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and spicy chilies adding an incredible depth of flavor. 
4.22 from 42 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • ½-1 thinly sliced habanero pepper depending on your preference for heat
  • 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes 15 ounce
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • Chopped parsley and/or bay leaf for garnish

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions to pot and saute until tender cooking roughly 5 minutes. Next add in minced garlic, ginger and chili and cook for about 30 seconds making sure not to burn the garlic.
  • Pour in rice and stir to combine with other ingredients allow rice to toast in pot for 2-3 minutes.  
  • Next add chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, seasoned salt, smoked paprika, curry powder, thyme, paprika and bay leaf and stir together then bring to a boil.  
  • Once it begins to boil, reduce heat to low and cover pot with lid. Continue cooking rice for about 25-30 minutes or until all liquids evaporate and rice becomes more tender. Remove bay leaf.
  • Turn off heat and allow rice to rest for 10 minutes with lid on. Once rice is completely tender, make sure all ingredients are stirred together. Top with parsley and bay leaf for garnish and serve.

Video

Notes

  • Be sure to allow the dish to rest after cooking. This gives it the time needed to not only cool down but also fully marry together each ingredient and allow all the flavors to meld.
  • Store the leftovers in the fridge for up to four days in an airtight container.
  • For a less spicy version, use less of the habanero. Don’t forget to also remove all the seeds and veins.
  • Serve jollof rice with fried plantains, stewed goat, roast chicken, oxtails, or short ribs. It is absolutely perfect to serve with these dishes. Each bite is magical. You can see why it has existed for many centuries.

Nutrition

Calories: 213kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 567mg | Potassium: 348mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 230IU | Vitamin C: 10.3mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1.5mg
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This post was originally published August 2018. It has been updated with new content and images.

Filed Under:  African Recipes, Grains, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Comments

  1. Sounds exotic, but the ingredients are common and easy to find! Delicious and just the right amount of spice!

  2. Wow! This was a winning recipe! Spicy and tasty! Loved the story of the recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thank you for featuring this recipe! I’m from Ghana so this is very special. Try it with goat meat for one of the best Jollof variations. As someone who has followed you for some time, I’m thrilled that we may share ancestors.

  4. I loved this recipe. I would eat more rice if it tasted like this ! I added a little more Chile for spice. And the left over rice i added ground spicy turkey saugage for a full meal.

  5. I’ve made this recipe several times now and love it.

    I’ve read that African curry should be used, not “standard” grocery store curry? Any thoughts on this? I’m unaware of the difference. Where do you buy your spices?

    Also, I’m thinking Harissa chicken might be a good pairing. Any other suggestions?

    Thank you for this recipe, and for sharing the moving story about your great grandfather.

  6. Jollof rice is originated in Gambia and Senegal I am part descendant of the Wollof tribe and speak the language fluently.

    The Mandigos are originated from Mali not the Wollof.

    When I cooked jollof rice is original and authentic in fact if you say jollof rice in Gambia and Senegal they won’t pay you any notice their is a name for it called (BENECHIN) which means one pot. Most of the original ingredients that is used to cook jollof rice can only be found in a Gambian or Senegalese home, there is a lot of layers of ingredients in cooking jollof rice.

    My Nigerian and Ghanaian friends don’t cook their own version of jollof rice any more since the tasted the original version.

4.22 from 42 votes (24 ratings without comment)

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