Jollof Rice

authentic Nigerian spicy jollof rice
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Never heard of Jollof rice? I would liken it to almost a west African version of jambalaya. It is incredibly flavorful, spicy rice with a tomato base… unlike jambalaya, it doesn’t require meat for flavor. In fact, protein is optional in this exquisite dish. It is spicy though, so not for the kiddos or spice averse.

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Jollof rice first hit my radar working with a Nigerian woman a few yeas ago. It’s a west African staple, with each country having a slightly nuanced version. I’ve had the good fortune to taste a number of delicious African dishes over the years, and jollof rice has to be my favorite. I decided to set off on developing a jollof recipe, specifically with my husband (aka the lover of all things spicy) in mind. My takeaway- this jollof rice is so good and I would really like to know where it has been hiding all of my life.

To start, take you tomatoes, bell pepper and pepper and puree in a blender. Set aside. In a medium dutch oven or large pan with a lid, warm the oil and saute the onion. Add the garlic and tomato paste, stirring until fragrant. Add in the tomato/ pepper puree and simmer for 15 minutes. The color will begin to deepen. Stir in the broth and spices and bring to a boil; boil for 5 minutes. Add in the rice and bay leaf. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed. At this point, you can add in a protein cooked separately, if desired. I added in 10 ounces of chopped cooked chicken breast to make this a filling, rounded meal. Rest the rice for 5 minutes and taste, adjust salt and pepper as needed (I typically add in about 1/2 teaspoon of salt) and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

cook time: 50 minutes

Jollof Rice Ingredients

  • 2 beefsteak tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow variety)
  • 1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoon vegetable or avocado oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2-1/2 cups broth
  • 2-1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt, + more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Optional: 10 ounces of cooked protein like chicken breast or ground beef

Jollof Rice Instructions

  1. Remove stems from tomatoes, bell pepper and pepper and puree in a blender or food processor. Set aside.
  2. In a medium dutch oven or large pan with a lid, warm the oil and saute the onion. Add the garlic and tomato paste, stirring until fragrant.
  3. Pour in the tomato/ pepper puree and simmer for 15 minutes. The color will begin to deepen.
  4. Stir in the broth and spices (curry, ginger, thyme, salt & pepper) and bring to a boil; boil for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and bay leaves. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. At this point, you can add in cooked protein, if using.
  7. Rest the rice for 5 minutes and taste, adjust salt and pepper as needed (I typically add in about 1/2 teaspoon of salt) and serve

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