Jollof Rice

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Jollof Rice

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1/3 cup Oil vegetable/canola/coconut, not olive oil)
6 medium-sized fresh plum Roma tomatoes, chopped, OR a 400-gram tin of tomatoes
6 fresh red poblano peppers or 4 large red bell peppers, seeds discarded
3 medium-sized red onions 1 sliced thinly, 2 roughly chopped, divided
1/2 to 1 hot peppers or to taste (yellow Scotch bonnets are my favourite
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons curry powder Caribbean/Jamaican-style
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
5 to 6 cups Vegetable Stock chicken, or beef or water, divided
2 teaspoons unsalted butter (optional), divided
4 cups uncooked converted long-grain rice or golden sella basmati, rinsed
Salt to taste
Black and white pepper to taste
sliced onions
  • Medium




Jollof Rice is the most popular rice dish in Nigeria and all along the West African coast. It is spiced, red long-grain rice in a rich sauce of reduced tomatoes, onions, peppers, and chilis, seasoned with curry powder, dried thyme, and bay leaves. It’s a flavorful dish with iconic, national, and regional significance. The longstanding feuds between Nigerians and Ghanaians, which include things like who is really king or queen and who was first to invent Jollof Rice, are known as #Jollofwars.

If you had to choose one dish to remind you of your country—or your parents’ or grandparents’ country—what would it be? Tell us in the comments below!

How to Make Jollof Rice:

  1. In a blender, combine the tomatoes, red poblano (or bell) peppers, chopped onion, and Scotch bonnets with 2 cups of stock. Blend till smooth, about a minute or two. You should have roughly 6 cups of blended mixture.
  2. Pour the mixture into a large pan and bring it to the boil. Then turn down the heat, cover, and leave to simmer for 10-12 minutes.
  3. In a large pan, heat the oil and add the sliced onions. Season with a pinch of salt and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the bay leaves, curry powder, dried thyme, and a pinch of black pepper and continue to simmer for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
  5. Then add the tomato paste and stir for another 2 minutes.
  6. Add the reduced tomato-pepper-Scotch bonnet mixture, stir, and leave on medium heat for 10-12 minutes with the lid on till reduced by half. This is the mixture that will define the pot.
  7. Add 4 cups of the stock to the cooked tomato sauce and bring it to a boil for 1-2 minutes. NB: The water added after the ground tomato puree must be the same level as the rice. This prevents the rice from becoming soggy.
  8. Add the rinsed rice and butter, stir, cover with a double piece of foil/baking or parchment paper, and put on the lid—this will seal in the steam and lock in the flavor. Turn down the heat and cook on low for 30 minutes. Place a focus on low to medium heat so that the rice may cook on its own and the water can evaporate without burning the food.
  9. Stir the rice, taste and adjust the seasoning as required.
  10. If you like, add sliced onions, fresh tomatoes, and the 2nd teaspoon of butter and stir through.
  11. To make Party Rice, there is one more step. Now Party Rice is essentially Smoky Jollof Rice, traditionally cooked over an open fire. However, you can achieve the same results on the stove top. Here’s how: Once the rice is cooked, turn up the heat with the lid on and leave to “burn” for 3 to 5 minutes. You’ll hear the rice crackle and snap, and it will smell toasted. Turn off the heat and leave with the lid on to “rest” till ready to serve. The longer the lid stays on, the smokier the rice will be.
  12. Keep in mind that while using parboiled rice, once the water evaporates completely, the rice is ready. There is no need to add water as this can also make it clump together.

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