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Jollof Rice is a hugely popular West African dish rice dish cooked in a tomato stew made of tomatoes, onions, red bell peppers, scotch bonnet and herbs + spices. This one pot rice dish is a rice lovers best friend. It is spicy, smoky and savoury and truly the Best Nigerian Jollof Rice! I cook Jollof rice at least twice a month. It is easy to prepare and lasts up to a week in the fridge and is perfect for entertaining or simple meal prep!
For Nigerian’s this rice is not a side but the main dish and is as much an everyday meal as it is a celebration dish! Often served with roasted meats, fried plantain ‘dodo’ and a side salad or coleslaw. Today I had mine with roast chicken and dodo – check out my recipes to complete your meal! Fried Plantain and Roast chicken.
What is Jollof Rice?
Jollof rice is a one pot rice dish from West Africa. The origins of the rice are not 100% agreed but it seems likely it came from present day Senegal or Mali. The dish is traditionally made with rice, tomatoes, red bell peppers, onions, scotch bonnet and herbs and spices in one single pot. Although, its ingredients and preparation methods differ from country to country. Jollof rice is wildly popular and is one of the most common dishes found in West Africa and is arguably the continent’s most famed dish!
My recipe is obviously Nigerian and is inspired by both my mother and auntie’s classic recipes. Nigerian Jollof rice is traditionally cooked with long grain rice in a rich stew of tomatoes, red bell peppers known as ‘ata rodo‘ in Yoruba, onions, scotch bonnet, curry, thyme and bay leaf. The Nigerian rice for me is the best (facts not bias :p) long grain rice is the optimal choice of rice for me when cooking one pot rice. Ghanaians use Basmati rice, which has a stronger flavour and cooks too quickly for my liking. I want to give the rice enough time to be infused by the rich spicy stew without the risk of overcooking into a mushy mess!
By now most would have seen or heard about the Jollof Wars and Jollof Gate. Back in 2014, Nigerian’s and Ghanaian put their Jollof wars to the side to object to Jamie Oliver’s unconventional Jollof rice recipe! But the war very much remains in place and it is a sensitive topic amongst West African’s – don’t be surprised if you hear or see a pair arguing on the topic! I’m afraid I stand with my fellow Nigerian’s that our rice IS SIMPLY THE BEST!
What do i need?
Long grain rice – I wont be providing any tips on cooking with other types of rice as I don’t know how. This is a Nigerian Jollof rice recipe that calls for fluffy long grain rice only!
Tinned tomatoes – Unlike my Nigerian stew recipe I like to use tinned tomatoes instead of fresh.
Red bell peppers – A key ingredient, without these the flavours are simply not the same! Nothing replicates the flavour of sweet bell peppers.
Scotch bonnet – This very spicy chilli is a very popular Nigerian ingredient. The flavour and spice level of this chilli is a match made in heaven – not for the faint hearted!
Good quality brown onions a vital component of the stew mix.
Bay leaf and Dried thyme – 2 key dried herb ingredients to compliment the tomato stew.
Curry powder and stock cubes – Essential to achieve the authentic rich flavour the rice has. I like to use organic Kallo chicken stock cubes. Traditionally Maggi cubes are used! You can also use chicken stock instead of water.
Tips & Tricks
When cooking the rice I place a piece of foil on top of the pot to contain the steam better. The rice is being steamed more than it is being boiled, as there is minimal water in the stew base. It is vital your pot contains the steam well.
Following on from that, don’t fuss with the rice. You want to contain the steam as much as possible so do refrain from opening and stirring every 5 minutes. Just leave it to steam and do its thing.
You will need a good blender. It is important that the stew base is blended smooth for the best results. You do not want the base to be bitty as you will feel this once the rice is done. This is my blender which works perfectly for blending sauce bases.
Avoid using a madras curry powder, you want a mild classic curry powder or Caribbean style for this recipe.
The key to good jollof rice is fluffy separate grains of rice with a rich red colour and flavour. If you are new to cooking rice, when you check just have a taste. If you are a little more advanced you should be able to tell how cooked the grains are from their texture and colour. Raw rice has a white/grey colour and looks hard not fluffy.
Jollof Rice Serving Suggestions –
Today I had mine with some Roast Chicken and Fried Plantain but Jollof rice goes with soooo many things! I love eating it with any roasted meat, sautéed prawns or fried fish. Veggie wise I love buttered green beans, coleslaw, a green salad or tender stem broccoli. I hope you love this dish as much as I do. I would love to hear from you in the comments!
5 from 1 vote
The Best Nigerian Jollof Rice
Smoky, spicy and savoury this rice is a cult favourite not just for Nigerian's!
Prep Time 10 minutesmins
Cook Time 1 hourhr
Total Time 1 hourhr10 minutesmins
Heavy base pot
4cupslong grain rice
2 tinned tomatoes
2red bell peppers
1 large onion
1small onionsliced for the rice
1½chicken stock cubes
¼cupsunflower or vegetable oil
Wash, chop and blend the onions, chilli, tomatoes and peppers in your blender and set aside. Measure out your seasonings into a small bowl ready for later.
Now add oil to your pot and turn the heat to high and heat the oil until smoking. Then pour your stew mix into the pot in one go and add the 1 cup of water immediately to avoid excess splashing. TIP – you can also balance the wooden spoon on the top of the pot to stop excessive splashing. Finally add all the herbs and spices and leave to fry and boil for approximately 30 minutes.
Keep an eye on your stew stirring from time to time. The stew will thicken and change colour to a deeper orange/red and the smell of raw tomato and onion should be completely gone before your base is ready for rice.
Once the stew base is ready take the pot off the heat and add the butter, rice, optional sliced onions and tomato paste and stir until the butter has melted. Now place the pot back on the heat on low. Place a piece of foil on the top of the pot and put the lid on top of it firmly and curl the excess foil around the pot sealing the edges. Leave to cook for 20 minutes on low without disturbing.
After 20 minutes take the lid off the pot and stir and check the rice. It should be half done by now and most of the liquid should be gone. If you are unsure try the rice and add a little water if you think its needed. Leave for a further 20 minutes.
Your rice should now be ready and you should remove the foil to prevent the residual heat from overcooking your grains. Your rice is ready to serve as you wish – enjoy!
I don’t always add sliced onions to my jollof rice but it is a great addition when you want some extra flavour and texture in your rice. Give it a try!
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Nigerian, West African
Keyword: one pot, Rice, Savoury, Spicy
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