Being a lover of rice dishes, I had to try out Nigerian jollof rice. Its colorful appearance appealed to me, and from the moment I tasted it, I knew that I would be trying this recipe at home. As such, I tried out various jollof rice recipes before finally settling on those that had me licking my plate at the end of the meal. 

This dish is a classic and people who grew up in West Africa think of it as a staple dish. It is with their help that I was able to narrow it down to five simple steps.

We all love a simple recipe, don’t we?

The Origin

Jollof rice is a staple meal in most households in West Africa. People grow up enjoying this delicacy, and they also serve this dish at special events. If you were to attend a wedding in West Africa, you are sure to enjoy some party jollof rice which sets the mood for the occasion alongside some entertaining music. This Nigerian rice has fast risen to become an international delicacy, and you will find restaurants across the globe offering Jollof.

There are many methods in which one can make African jollof rice, and it all depends on what you wish to achieve. A standard Nigerian Jollof comprises of tomatoes, rice, tomato paste, and salt, spices, onions, and scotch bonnet peppers. Some people claim that if your recipe lacks the above ingredients, then you are not genuinely making jollof rice, something to which I agree.

The reason why I refer to this rice as Nigerian Jollof is the kind of rice used in the recipe which is long-grained and parboiled. There are other versions that you will find from other West African countries. Take an example of Ghana. Their jollof rice uses jasmine or basmati rice which is entirely different from the Nigerian way of doing things. Over time, there has been a discussion as to which jollof takes the day when it comes to Ghana and Nigeria.

However, there cannot be a clear winner of the two as it all comes down to one’s preferences.

As such, it is best to experiment with the two, and it is only then that you can formulate an objective opinion. Jasmine/ basmati rice tend to be sweet and soft and may thus pose a challenge to anyone making this dish, and that is an edge that parboiled rice has over the two.

The typical jollof rice recipe is quite simple and the one presented here boils down to five key stages, thus making preparation even simpler. In cooking this dish, you should ensure that you pay attention to the ingredients and the seasoning. In this way, your rice will come out as it should. Suitable accompaniments include chicken, plantains, and salads. However, in this regard, you are free to choose that which pleases you.

Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

This dish falls under Nigerian cuisine, and you will need the following ingredients:

  • Five medium sized tomatoes, chopped
  • One red bell pepper, chopped
  • One medium sized onion, chopped
  • Two scotch bonnet peppers
  • ¼ cup groundnut oil
  • Three tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 cups parboiled rice
  • 2 ½ cups of chicken stock
  • One teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon of thyme
  • One teaspoon of all-purpose seasoning
  • One stock cube
  • Three bay leaves
  • Water

Key Points to Note

Regarding the chopped ingredients, you need not take much precision when cutting them as they will not affect the result. Scotch bonnet peppers also go by the name habanero peppers, and this may help you in your search. When preparing this dish, it is always best to ensure that you have all the ingredients at reach as it will further simplify the process.

The reason why people use parboiled rice is to make sure that the result is not mushy. You want your jollof rice to be such that one can tell one grain from the other. In this way, you will not only savor its appearance, but you will also appreciate its taste.

When making the tomato stew, you need not worry about when it is ready as there are two ways to ascertain the same. The first method is by being on the lookout for the oil. Once it rises to the top, your stew is ready. The second method involves tasting the stew, and if there is no bitter tomato taste in play, your tomato stew is ready. You will note that the recipe asks for the reservation of a quarter of the tomato mixture. Adding this toward the end of the cooking not only prevents the rice from burning but it also enables the dish to have a beautiful red hue to it. Now that you know these tips preparing this dish should be a breeze.

How to Cook Nigerian Jollof Rice

Start by placing your tomatoes, scotch bonnet peppers and red pepper in a food processor. Blend them for about forty seconds and check to see that everything has combined well. Next, place a medium-sized pot on medium-high heat and pour in some oil. Wait until the oil is hot before adding some onions to the pan.

Take time when frying them and ensure that they turn golden brown before adding the tomato paste. Continue heating for the next three minutes as you let the paste cook. Take the blended tomato mixture and reserve a quarter of it in a different container. Add ¾ of it to the mix and let it cook for the next half an hour. When doing so, be sure to keep stirring to ensure that the mixture does not burn. 

After half an hour, lower the heat to medium and gradually add the chicken stock. At this point, combine your seasonings (all purpose seasoning, salt, stock cube, thyme, and curry powder). Add them to the tomato mixture and let them cook for the next ten minutes. You can now add the parboiled rice to the mix. Ensure that you mix it with the tomato stew until it is well-combined.

It is at this point that water comes into play. Add water such that the rice levels with the tomato mixture. Add some bay leaves, cover the pan and let the rice cook on medium-low heat for the next fifteen to thirty minutes. Keep checking on the rice to ensure that all the water does not evaporate. When the rice is close to drying up, add the remaining tomato stew and cover the rice again. Let it cook for the next five to ten minutes as you wait for the liquid to dry up. Once the rice is dry, turn off the heat and thoroughly mix the rice. You can now serve your jollof rice.

Jollof Rice With Chicken

You can also opt to make jollof rice with chicken which is another way to enjoy this delicacy. It takes about ten minutes to prepare this dish and one hour to cook. The process is quite easy, and you get four servings out of it.

The ingredients you need for it are as follows:

  • Eight skinless and boneless chicken thighs
  • Three tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • One large onion
  • Three tablespoons of tomato puree
  • I stock cube
  • 400 grams of rice
  • One red pepper
  • One yellow pepper
  • 100 grams of okra
  • One bunch of coriander

You can also make a base with the following ingredients:

  • Two garlic cloves
  • 800 grams of plum tomatoes
  • One inch of root ginger
  • One scotch bonnet chili


Start off by cutting the chicken thighs into large pieces before seasoning them with salt and pepper. Next, heat two tablespoons of oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the meat and let it fry until it gets a golden hue. Pour the chicken onto a plate and add more oil to the pan.

Fry onions in the oil until they become soft but do not let them turn golden. As they cook, you can prepare the base. Place the tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and chili into a blender and mix them until smooth. Add this puree to the onions and continue frying for another two minutes before adding the base, stock cube and 600n millimeters of boiling water.

You can now add the chicken and bring it to a boil before leaving it to simmer for fifteen minutes. Add the rice to the mix and let it cook for twenty minutes. You can cover it with foil to ensure that steam does not escape. Lift the lid and add peppers and okra before covering again for five to ten minutes. Lastly, scatter some coriander over the rice and thoroughly mix it before serving it.

Nigerian Jollof rice will have you rethinking the way you look at rice dishes. What’s more, there are many variations as to the same, and you will have fun trying them all out. Enjoy!


Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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