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Learn how to make Jollof Rice with us! This mouthwatering West African dish includes tender rice and a rich spice blend all simmered in a tomato and pepper sauce.
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Jollof rice, a cultural delicacy celebrated across West Africa, boasts an array of regional variations that reflect the diversity of flavors and ingredients within the continent. In Nigeria, the grains dance in a fiery blend of spices and tomato, while Jollof rice in Ghana takes on a slightly sweeter note with its incorporation of caramelized onions and unique spices. Senegal presents its version, known as Thieboudienne, enriched with fish and vibrant vegetables. The variations continue, each with a distinct personality – from the rich, smoky undertones of the Sierra Leone Jollof to the aromatic infusion of coconut milk found in Liberian Jollof. These diverse interpretations showcase the richness of culture, history, and culinary creativity that this rice dish embodies across its many forms. This recipe is a Nigerian Jollof Rice recipe.
Ingredients in Jollof Rice
- Tomatoes – juicy and tangy, tomatoes make a great base for this recipe. Use any plum tomatoes.
- Red Bell Peppers – these peppers add a little bit of freshness and sweetness to the tomato puree
- Habanero Pepper – these peppers are not for the faint of heart! Be careful when handling to not touch your eyes. You can also use a Scotch bonnet pepper
- Onion – onions add so much depth and flavor to the simmer sauce
- Vegetable Oil – oil helps the rice to not stick together while cooking
- Spice Blend – onion powder, thyme, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt, curry powder, and ground ginger
- Bay Leaves – add herbal, earthy flavor to the rice
- Medium Grain White Rice – I like to use Calrose rice but you can use other medium or long-grain rice like Basmati rice
What to Serve with Jollof Rice
This rice dish, with its vibrant flavors and colorful appearance, pairs beautifully with a variety of accompaniments. Traditional choices include grilled or roasted meats like chicken or beef marinated in flavorful spices that complement the rice’s taste. Seafood lovers can opt for fried fish or grilled shrimp to add a delightful seafood twist. Vegetarians and vegans can enjoy Jollof rice with plantains, fried or roasted for a sweet and savory pairing. A fresh salad with vibrant greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers can also provide contrast to the hearty flavors of Jollof rice.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Use within a few days of preparing. To keep the rice moist while reheating in the microwave, add an ice cube and cover with parchment paper.
Let some of the rice cook onto the bottom of the pot to get nice and crispy. In Nigeria they call this “bottom pot” and it gives a smoky flavor to the rice.
Frequently Asked Questions about Jollof Rice
This dish is most commonly considered Nigerian. Some say it came from the Wolof people of the Senegambia region. It has spread over Africa and to other parts of the world.
To me, the depth of flavor makes this rice special. Instead of being cooked in water, the rice is cooked in a flavorful, spicy tomato puree.
It is smokey and spicy with a little tang from the tomatoes. It is so delicious!
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How to Make Jollof Rice
- 2 tomatoes I used roma tomatoes
- 1/2 medium onion
- 1/2 Habanero pepper
- 3 red bell peppers
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper use less if you aren't a fan of spice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 1/2 cups medium grain white rice I used Calrose
- 2 cups chicken broth
- Chop the tomatoes, onion, and peppers into chunks. Place in a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Prepare the spice mix. Add all the spices to a small plate or bowl. Set aside.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the puree along with the spice mixture. Stir to combine. Add bay leaves and bring to a boil.
- Add the rice and stir. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. If the rice seems dry, add the chicken broth. Cook for about 15 more minutes or until the rice is al dente. Allow some of the rice to cook on the bottom of the pot and get a bit crispy.
- Remove from heat and serve.
- Allowing some of the rice to cook up crispy on the bottom will infuse the rice with a smoky flavor.
- Serve this rice with a protein of your choice and fried plantains.
- This rice is spicy. If you are not a fan of spice, then omit the Habanero pepper and the cayenne pepper.
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