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Jollof Rice

Jollof Rice is probably the most famous West African dish. It’s long-grain rice spiced up with tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, garlic, and thyme, then simmered in a delicious chicken broth for a flavor-packed comfort food guaranteed to soothe your soul.

Two bowls of Jollof Rice with chicken in the background

Cameroon, Nigeria, and Ghana all have their unique twist to this deliciousness. The recipes from Cameroon and Nigeria use long-grain rice, while Ghanaians use basmati and add more tomatoes. But I see no reason to fight about it because they’re all fabulous.

That said, Jollof Rice is usually what we Africans miss most when we leave our beloved home. And this is no ordinary rice dish. It’s super easy to make, but it has its tricks. First off, it’s steamed, not boiled. So don’t be taking off the lid to peek because you’ll ruin it.

Why is it Called Jollof Rice?

Centuries ago, the Wolof or Jolof people (from the Senegambian region) invented this incredible rice dish. Back in the mid-1400s, the Portuguese introduced tomatoes, and, of course, the local people didn’t waste any time putting them to good use. It’s the original one-pot meal, flavor-packed, and super easy. You’ve got to try it!

Ingredients for Jollof Rice

What You Need for Jollof Rice

  • Rice – This staple starch is so much better when you flavor it with veggies, seasonings, and chicken broth. And brown rice makes it even healthier.
  • Veggies – Tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and garlic all add incredible flavor and aroma to our jollof rice.
  • Seasonings – Simple seasonings such as bay leaf, thyme, and Scotch bonnet peppers really kick up the flavor.
  • Chicken Broth – This ingredient adds a little protein and a lot of flavor to our rice dish.

How to Make Jollof Rice

Wash rice, saute veggies and make sauce
Simmer the sauce, add the rice and liquid

Make the Sauce

Wash the rice and set it aside. Add tomato, bell pepper, half of the onion in a blender, and puree until smooth.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining chopped onions, garlic, and thyme and sautee for about 2-3 minutes until the onion is translucent.

Then add tomato paste and fry for about three more minutes. Add in pureed tomato mixture and cook while stirring for about 15-20 minutes. 

Add washed rice, bay leaf, Scotch bonnet, bouillon powder, chicken broth, and water. Give everything a generous stir, then season with salt to taste.

Cook the Rice

Bring the liquids to a rolling boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Allow rice to cook until tender and fluffy (about 30-40 minutes)

Turn off heat, allow the rice to cool for about 10 minutes, then fluff rice with a fork. 

Serve with grilled chicken or meat.

Recipe Tips

  • There is a reason the bell pepper is red. You want your rice to have that beautiful red hue, and the tomato isn’t enough.
  • When sauteing the onions, let them caramelize for the best flavor.
  • Take your time with the sauce because that’s where all the flavor is.
  • The secret to any good rice is a pot with a tightly sealed lid. You want your rice to steam cook for perfection.
  • Another secret to good jollof rice is NOT using parboiled. I know you want dinner on the table fast, but this one is worth the wait.

Make-Ahead and Storage Instructions

While this recipe is best fresh, you can make it the day before and reheat it. It will last for three days in the fridge and up to three months in the freezer.

I prefer adding a dash of chicken broth and reheating it in the oven at 350℉/177℃ for about 20 minutes.

Jollof rice in a white bowl with baked chicken

What to Serve With Jollof Rice

Suya chicken and fried plantains are the perfect pairings for this rice recipe. A cucumber tomato salad is also refreshing.

Related Recipes

Two bowls of Jollof Rice with chicken in the background
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Jollof Rice

Jollof Rice is probably the most famous West African dish. It's long-grain rice spiced up with tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, garlic, and thyme, then simmered in a delicious chicken broth for a flavor-packed comfort food guaranteed to soothe your soul.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6
Calories 395kcal
Author Imma

Ingredients

  • 3 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 2 plump tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1 tablespoon bouillon powder
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  • Wash the rice and set it aside. Add tomato, bell pepper, half of the onion in a blender, and puree until smooth.
  • Heat your oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining chopped onions, garlic, and thyme and sautee for about 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent.
  • Then add tomato paste and fry for about 3 minutes. Add in pureed tomato mixture and cook while stirring for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Add washed rice, bay leaf, Scotch bonnet, bouillon powder, chicken broth, and water. Give everything a generous stir, then season with salt to taste.
  • Bring the liquids to a rolling boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Allow rice to cook until tender and fluffy (about 30-40 minutes)
  • Turn off heat, allow the rice to cool for about 10 minutes, then fluff rice using a fork.
  • Serve with grilled chicken or meat. Enjoy!

Notes

  • When sauteing the onions, let them caramelize for the best flavor.
  • Take your time with the sauce because that’s where all the flavor is.
  • Please keep in mind that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 395kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 15g | Sodium: 475mg | Potassium: 240mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g
Recipe Rating




Pm

Saturday 26th of March 2022

Mmmmm now I'm so hungry of jellof rice What a very nice dish I must know how to do it

Imma

Wednesday 30th of March 2022

Yes you do. It is quite easy to make.

Real Ebony Queen

Saturday 19th of March 2022

You are making me hungry looking at the very colorful and delicious Jollof riside dishesce. In Nigeria,it is one of our national meals for parties and celebration. We add veggies too. Salad, coleslaw, fried plaintain and moi-moi as side dishes.

Brandi Crawford

Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

That sounds amazing!

jani

Wednesday 2nd of March 2022

Mmmmm now I'm so hungry for jollof rice. You have the mixed veggies in the picture, but don't mention them in the recipe! In Liberia we always added mixed veg if possible.

Imma

Wednesday 2nd of March 2022

Hi Jan, Yes we do as well in Cameroon . However, it is optional since most cultures do not add vegetables. If adding vegetables mixed in during the last 10 minutes of cooking or saute and add after rice is cooked.