Craving some spice? Look no further than this delicious jollof rice. Transform your dinner table into a West African experience with this smoky flavor rice recipe. Easily tailor it to your unique tastes and enjoy!
Jollof rice is widely considered the best rice recipe in the world, and it's easy to see why! No matter which version you try, jollof rice will always bring your taste buds alive!
Jump straight to what you need to know about jollof rice, or read the whole blog post.
Watch our quick video, summing up the simple steps to cooking jollof rice.
Jollof rice is a beloved dish in many countries across West Africa and each one has its own unique version.
It originates from the Wolof people of the Senegambian region (today's Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania). It then spread to other countries in West Africa. Traditionally cooked over an open fire throughout the African continent, jollof rice can now be easily made on the hob or in the oven for a delicious and authentic flavour.
Nigeria and Ghana are the most competitive about who makes the best jollof rice, referred to as 'jollof wars'.
Nigerian Jollof Rice
Nigerian jollof rice uses parboiled long grain rice. It is typically a spicer variant using a scotch bonnet or habanero blended with peppers, tomatoes and onion to make a thick vegetable puree. Added to fried onions and a tomato paste to create a deep red or orange color. Enhance the flavor of your dish by adding salt and spices to taste, then combine with rice until it reaches that perfect fluffy texture.
Ghanaian Jollof Rice
Ghanaian jollof rice uses basmati rice cooked in a richer tomato stew base and adds ginger and curry powder into the mix for their variants.
The ingredients we used in this jollof rice recipe are based on Nigerian jollof rice. We will also give suggestions for other ingredients that can be added to make your jollof rice even more flavourful.The shopping list, measurements and recipe can be found in the recipe card.
Using fresh ripe tomatoes will give the jollof rice a bright, fresh flavour. Tinned tomatoes, are a suitable alternative if that's all you have.
Red bell peppers add sweetness and deep red colour to the blended sauce.
Use a habanero or scotch bonnet pepper to add warmth and spice to the dish. Feel free to adjust how much you use depending on how spicy you like your food.
Nigerian food is known for being spicy. If you have not tried it before, I suggest starting with only ½ a scotch bonnet pepper for this recipe to serve four people, as you may find it too spicy with a whole scotch bonnet or habanero pepper.
You could also remove the white pith (the bit that attaches the seeds to the chilli) to help reduce spice levels if you are not a spicy food lover, as this is the spiciest part!
We like to use red onion to get the best colour and extra sweetness. If using a large onion remember to only use half for the vegetable puree and save the other half for frying.
Roughly chop these ingredients to be pureed in a blender or food processor. Only use half the onion for the puree, saving the rest to be finely chopped and fried.
We use vegetable oil, groundnut will also add a nice West African flavour profile. However, you can use any cooking oil you like.
Tomato puree adds a rich, concentrated flavour to the base of this spicy rice.
Garlic adds a savoury depth of flavour to the jollof rice dish, garlic and ginger is more of a Ghanaian addition, to be honest, but we love what it adds to the spicy rice.
This adds a subtle woody flavour and aroma to the dish.
Dried thyme infuses jollof rice with a rich, earthy flavor that enhances the overall enjoyment of this classic dish.
We use a chicken stock cube, this enhances the flavour of the jollof rice. Vegetable, beef or lamb stock cubes are suitable alternatives.
A blend of mixed herbs and spices commonly used in West African foods, use what you can find; the ingredients may differ slightly worldwide. But whatever mix you use will add lots of flavour!
Be careful to adjust the salt content when you add stock cubes and all-purpose seasonings you may not need to add much if they already contain enough.
The rice types used for jollof rice is key for getting this recipe right. In Africa they use parboiled rice, also known as converted rice in the US. Here in the UK we call it easy cook rice. Check the packaging to see if it is parboiled.
The parboiling process is where the rice is soaked and boiled to partially cook it before being dried and packaged to be sold. Compared to rice which is not parboiled, it has a more opaque and very slight yellow colour to it.
Easy cook/ converted long grain rice has a firm texture and doesn't become mushy, preventing clumping when cooked, which is why this rice is perfect for jollof rice.
If you prefer the taste of basmati rice, look for golden sella basmati rice, which has been parboiled for the best results.
Enough water to cover the rice by about ½ inch (1 cm). If you find the sauce has become too thick, add a little more liquid or some chicken stock.
The equipment you will need to cook jollof rice is a food processor to blend the tomato and pepper into a thick spicy sauce. You'll also need a large lidded saucepan for frying the onion and cooking the rice. A wooden spoon is ideal for stirring everything together.
Start by blending together the roughly chopped fresh tomatoes, red bell pepper, scotch bonnet and red onion in a blender until a smooth pepper and tomato sauce /puree.
In a lidded large pan, fry the finely chopped red onion over medium heat until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic (if using) and cook for 3 minutes.
Add the blended sauce and stir together with bay leaves, all-purpose seasoning, dried thyme and extra salt to taste. Bring sauce to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes to allow it to thicken the colour will become a deeper red too.
Rinse rice under cold running water to remove all traces of starch before adding it to the saucepan with the thickened spicy sauce.
Add enough water to cover about a centimetre above the rice level after stirring in.
Bring to a boil, then turn down to low heat and cook for 20 minutes without removing the lid.
Turn off the heat after 20 minutes, DO NOT REMOVE THE LID; you need the steam for it to continue cooking the rice for another 20 minutes.
After the full cooking time, remove the lid and use a fork to fluff up the jollof rice. There will be a layer of rice stuck to the bottom of the pan. This is due to the cooking time with direct heat on the bottom with the natural sugars from the tomato base.
We have attempted a few ways to prevent this from happening, but it seems this is actually a known and loved part of jollof rice, which helps enrich a smoky flavor. The golden brown, crispy rice on the bottom has a fabulous much loved taste!
Enjoy a flavorful dish of jollof rice with the perfect complement: tender cooked vegetables or sweet fried plantains. Boiled eggs are another favourite.
Another idea is to serve it with a side salad of sliced tomatoes, cabbage, red onion and cucumber.
📖 Step by Step Recipe
Jollof Rice Recipe
Spicy Blended Pepper & Tomato Sauce
- 2 large Tomatoes
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- ½ Scotch Bonnet
- 1 small Red Onion or ½ large
- 1 small Red Onion or ½ large
- 2 cloves Garlic finely chopped
- 60 ml Vegetable Oil
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 Stock Cube
- ½ tablespoon All-Purpose Seasoning
- 2 cups Long Grain Rice (easy cook) in grams -
- 2 teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 3 tablespoon Tomato Puree
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 ½ cup Water (enough to cover rice)
- Place the pepper puree ingredients into a blender with the stock blend until smooth2 large Tomatoes, 1 Red Bell Pepper, ½ Scotch Bonnet, 1 small Red Onion
- Finely chop the remaining red onion and fry in oil in a large lidded saucepan until softened1 small Red Onion, 60 ml Vegetable Oil
- Add the tomato puree and garlic.3 tablespoon Tomato Puree, 2 cloves Garlic
- Cook on low for 3-5 mins, stirring regularly.
- Add the spicy tomato and pepper puree created in step 1 and stir together
- Add the bay leaves, thyme, all-purpose seasoning, stock cube and salt.2 Bay Leaves, ½ tablespoon All-Purpose Seasoning, 2 teaspoon Dried Thyme, 1 teaspoon Salt, 1 Stock Cube
- Bring to the boil then lower to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, wash the rice under cold running water to remove the starch.2 cups Long Grain Rice (easy cook)
- Add the rinsed rice into the sauce and stir through.
- Add water, stir through. It should cover about 1 cm above the rice. (Add more if needed) Bring to a boil.1 ½ cup Water (enough to cover rice)
- Once the liquid has reached a boil, give one more stir and cover with lid. Turn to the lowest setting, and cook for 20 minutes. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID during this cooking time.
- After 20 minutes of cooking. Turn the heat off, KEEP THE LID ON, do not allow the steam to escape.The rice will now cook in the steam for another 20 minutes.
- Stir through and fluff up with a fork. Remove the bay leaves. It is normal to have a little bit of crispy rice stuck to the bottom of the pan; this adds to the smoky taste.
- Serve jollof rice with vegetables such as fried plantain and meat such as suya beef.
Be sure to refrigerate any leftovers within an hour of cooling. Put them in an airtight container, and they can stay fresh for up to three days!
To reheat, add a splash of water and cook in the microwave or in a pan over medium heat until heated through.
Other Rice Recipes
This jollof rice recipe should have you enjoying delicious West African flavours in no time at all. With the right ingredients and equipment, this is an easy meal to make for your friends and family.