Jollof Rice [Nigeria]

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Jollof rice is a popular dish consumed throughout West Africa and is a celebratory dish that can often be found at weddings and parties. The preparations for this fluffy, red-hued rice vary from region to region with a rivalry between two countries in particular, Ghana and Nigeria, over who makes the best variation. What all of them share in common though is the use of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and rice. Beyond that, there can be the additions of meat, seafood, and vegetables of a large variety!

The origin of jollof rice is likely from Senegal and derives its name from the Wolof – the largest ethnic group in Senegal. However, other than the coloring of the rice, the version of the dish found in Senegal, theiboudienne, is quite different from the jollof rice popular outside of the country. The recipe that follows is based off of a few different Nigerian recipes where we’ve included the ingredients that have been featured in all of them, but omitted the more niche ones such as red palm oil that is used in such a small quantity and in only a few of the them.

Ingredients (Yields 2 servings)

  • Sunflower oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, finely diced
  • 1 cup diced plum tomatoes
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ¼ Scotch bonnet pepper, finely diced
  • Dried thyme, 4 fingers pinch
  • Cayenne pepper, 3 fingers pinch
  • Ground ginger, 3 fingers pinch
  • Smoked paprika, 2 fingers pinch
  • Tomato paste, to taste
  • Salt
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white basmati rice


  1. In a pot, sauté the onions and bell peppers in sunflower oil over high heat until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add in the tomatoes, garlic, Scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, ginger, and paprika. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is aromatic, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the tomato paste and stir well to combine all of the ingredients. Season with salt and taste to adjust any ingredients if necessary.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully blend half of the contents. You can also choose to blend all of it if you prefer to not have any individual pieces of ingredients mixed in with the rice.
  5. Return the mixture back into the pot and add the chicken stock. Stir everything together and turn up the heat until the contents are simmering.
  6. Add in the rice and stir until every grain is coated. Cover the pot with a lid or aluminum foil and turn the heat down to low.
  7. After 15 minutes, lift the lid and stir everything in the pot gently before covering again.
  8. After another 15 minutes, remove the lid and check on your rice. If the rice is still not cooked and is looking dry, add a bit more chicken stock before covering and continuing to cook. If it looks too moist, remove the lid to allow some of the excess liquid to evaporate.
  9. When the rice is done, turn off the heat and allow the rice to steam with the lid on for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork prior to serving and enjoy!

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