Jollof rice is a traditional West African dish of long-grained rice cooked in an intensely flavored sauce with blended tomato, bell pepper, Scotch bonnet pepper, warm spices, and more. This savory, spicy side is sure to wake up your taste buds.
Rice is a versatile starch that can be dressed up or down in seemingly endless ways. In West Africa, they have created something special called Jollof rice. I was in Morocco last month, and I ordered it almost everywhere we went to eat. It serves as an excellent, spicy side to many savory mains and can also be enjoyed as a meal on its own.
What is Jollof Rice?
Jollof rice is a traditional dish found most commonly in Nigeria and Ghana. It consists of long-grained rice cooked in a tomato-based sauce packed with warm spices and a bit of heat due to the addition of a Scotch bonnet pepper. Jollof rice is usually served as a side dish, often next to hearty meat stews, but it also has protein added to it sometimes, like beef or goat.
Jollof Rice Ingredients
- For the Nigerian Curry Powder: ground coriander, turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, cumin, black pepper, nutmeg, mustard powder, and cloves.
- For the Sauce: red onion, red bell pepper, tomato puree, Roma tomato, garlic powder, fresh thyme, Scotch bonnet pepper, chicken bouillon granules, chicken broth, Nigerian curry powder, and cooking oil.
- For the Rice: unsalted butter, tomato paste, parboiled basmati or jasmine rice, chicken broth, bay leaves, and sea salt.
How to Make Jollof Rice
- Whisk together the spices for the Nigerian spice blend.
- In a food processor or blender, blend the red onion, pepper, tomato puree, Roma tomato, garlic powder, thyme, Scotch bonnet, chicken bouillon, chicken broth, and the Nigerian spice blend until smooth.
- Reduce the sauce. Heat cooking oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed skillet, add the sauce, bring it to a boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Cook the tomato paste. Melt the butter in a saucepan and cook the tomato paste in the pan until dark red, stirring continuously.
- Toast the rice. Add the rice to the pan and cook for 2 minutes while constantly stirring.
- Add the sauce, chicken stock, bay leaves, and sea salt. Stir to combine.
- Bake: Cover with a lid and bake for 30 minutes.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
Tips for Success
- Use the proper rice. Select long-grained, parboiled rice. This is the one I used https://amzn.to/3l0Pdck.
- Rice-to-liquid ratio. After reducing it on the stovetop, the amount of sauce you are left with may be more or less than 2 cups. If you have less, add more chicken stock to get the proper amount of liquid. Remove extras.
- No peeking. Do not open the oven door to check on the progress of the rice. This will allow steam to escape and will disrupt the cooking process.
- Fluff immediately. When the Jollof comes out of the oven, immediately give it a nice fluff to avoid a sticky mess.
- Add veggies. Before adding the tomato paste, saute onions, bell pepper, and/or carrots and add them back in before baking the rice. You can also add peas to the mix.
- Add meat. Sear pieces of chicken, beef, or pork and nestle them on top of the rice before baking.
- More or less spice. Jollof can be pretty spicy, so you can use half of a bonnet pepper or select a slightly more mild pepper, such as a jalapeno.
- Fresh herbs. Toss the Jollof with chopped fresh parsley or Cilantro.
What To Serve With Jollof Rice?
Serve jollof rice with my Moroccan Chicken Tagine or this Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Stone Fruit Sauce. Balance this hearty side with a salad such as my Cabbage Cucumber Salad or even this Grilled Zucchini Salad with Corn and Tomatoes.
Store leftover Jollof rice in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Reheat in a skillet with oil, stirring until warm, and moisten with water or chicken broth if needed.
More Rice Recipes
- 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup tomato puree
- 1 Roma tomato, quartered
- 2½ teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, seeds removed – feel free to substitute it for habanero.
- 3 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
- 1 cup chicken broth
- homemade Nigerian curry powder
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- Whisk together the ground coriander, ground turmeric, ground ginger, ground cayenne pepper, ground cumin, ground black pepper, ground nutmeg, ground mustard powder, and ground cloves. Set aside.
- Add the onion, red bell pepper, tomato puree, Roma tomato, garlic powder, thyme, Scotch bonnet, chicken bouillon granules, chicken broth, and Nigerian curry powder to a blender; blend until smooth. You should have about 3 cups of sauce.
- Heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed skillet.
- Add the sauce to the skillet and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. The sauce should reduce by about 1/3, leaving you with 2 cups of liquid. If you have more, discard the extras or save it as a dip for crusty bread.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F. If your oven has a convection setting, use it.
- Melt the butter in a large oven-safe pot or pan set over medium heat. Add the tomato paste and stir for about 2 minutes or until dark red.
- Add the rice to the pan. Stir for about 2 minutes to toast the rice.
- Add the previously prepared sauce and stir to combine.
- Add chicken broth, bay leaves, and sea salt. Stir to combine.
- Cover with a lid and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and immediately fluff the rice with a fork.
- Parboiled Basmati Rice, also known as converted rice, is a partially cooked rice common in African and Asian cuisines. I almost always get mine on Amazon.
- Rice to Liquid Ratio: After reducing the sauce, the amount of sauce you are left with may be more or less than the suggested 2 cups. If you have under two cups of sauce, add more chicken broth to get the proper amount of liquid. Additionally, cook the rice until it is soft and tender but not mushy. You also don’t want to overcook the rice, or it will become dry and crunchy.
- Add-ins: Before cooking the tomato paste, sauté chopped onions and bell peppers until tender and remove them from the pot. When ready to bake, stir the onions and peppers into the rice and bake. You can also sear some chicken pieces, beef, or pork and nestle them on top of the rice before covering and baking.
- Storing: This recipe makes a pretty big batch of Jollof. Cool the rice to room temperature if you have leftovers, then transfer it to an airtight container. Cover and store the container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat, heat some oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet and add the rice, stirring until heated through. If the rice is dry, add a splash of water or chicken broth.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.