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Ghana Style Jollof Rice

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Jollof rice is a popular dish in West Africa and is equally loved worldwide. It is a festive dish often served at parties, weddings, and holidays. People love to eat Jollof rice with side dishes such as fried chicken, beef, salad, fried plantains, and more. Jollof is known for its red color and unique flavor. The birthplace of Jollof rice is Senegal. They call this dish thieboudienne or ceebu jen, made from rice, onions, tomatoes, and fish.

But soon, it spread to the other regions of West Africa, and from there, the variation begins. Today each country has its own version of Jollof rice in West Africa. This will also create jollof wars between many countries, and a more prominent one is between Nigerians and Ghanaians. Both claims they have the best version of Jollof rice.

This friendly competition often results in delicious Jollof rice being enjoyed by all.

What made Ghana Style Jollof Rice unique?

Although Ghanaian-style Jollof Rice has a few things, it differs from other versions of Jollof Rice. Some of them are:

  1. Its smoky flavor:

Ghanaian Jollof Rice is known for its smoky flavor. As the rice is cooked over an open fire or charcoal. The charcoal gives a smoky flavor that infuses into the rice, which is related to Ghanaian Jollof Rice.

  1. Tomato-based Sauce:

Tomato-based sauce, a core ingredient of Ghanaian Jollof Rice. This sauce is made from blended tomatoes, onions, and spices. Then this sauce is cooked to create a rich and flavorful base for the rice.

  1. Flavorful Spices: 

Ghanaian Jollof Rice is made with various spices to enhance its flavor. Spices such as

curry powder, thyme, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried bay leaves are used to make this dish. These spices give a unique and complex flavor to the Jollof rice.

  1. No Parboiling: 

Unlike the other versions of Jollof rice, Ghanaian Jollof Rice does not involve parboiling the rice before cooking. But the uncooked rice is directly added to the tomato sauce and cooked together. So the rice will absorb the flavors of the sauce as it cooks on low flame.

  1. Use Less Vegetables:

Some people add vegetables such as carrots, green beans, and peas to Ghanaian Jollof Rice. But they are optional and not a core part as in other versions of Jollof rice. As the rice 

have the rich flavor of the tomato sauce and the smoky taste, the vegetables are not necessary.

  1. Meat:

The original version of Jollof rice is made with chicken or fish. While Ghanaian Jollof Rice is made with meat(beef or goat). This will give a distinct flavor to the dish.

How to make Ghana Style Jollof Rice with Shirley’s Jollof Paste?

Shirley’s Jollof Paste makes finger-licking Ghana Style Jollof Rice. It has a unique blend of spices that gives a bright color and tasty flavor to your Jollof rice.


To make this red /orange rice dish with Shirley’s Jollof Paste, you require:

For the meat:

  • 750 to 800g (1 1/3 pound) lamb or beef
  • Half onion
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper or habanero pepper
  • 1 Bouillon cube
  • 3 whole cloves of garlic (1/4 tsp ground)

For the rice:

  • 4 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion(diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic(minced)
  • 1 inch fresh ginger(grated)
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper or habanero pepper (chopped)
  • 6 large, fresh tomatoes or one and a half cans of tomato (chopped)
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato puree (tomato paste)
  • 2 Tablespoons Shirley’s Jollof Paste
  • 1 seasoning cube or Bouillon cube (or salt to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 cups long-grain rice (Thai jasmine)
  • 2 cups hot water or stock/broth
  • Half cup mixed carrots and peas (optional)
  • Parchment paper round that fits inside your cooking pot


The Ghana Style Jollof Rice is made in two steps. First, prepare meat for the rice and then

cook a stew base. The rice and meat are cooked together in the stew on low heat. 

Prepare the meat:

  1. Wash thoroughly and cut the lamb or beef into desired-size chunks.
  2. Add half the onion, bouillon cube, garlic, Scotch bonnet pepper, or habanero pepper to the food processor, mortar, and pestle. Blend to make the paste. Rub the paste on the meat pieces and cover it completely.
  3. If you feel the meat is tough, cook the meat with sauce paste until the meat is tender. Then grill or fry the pieces of meat to make them crispy.
  4. But if the meat is tender, you can grill it directly. Set the cooked meat aside.

Prepare the stew base:

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and fry until golden brown. 
  2. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a minute or two. 
  3. Add tomato puree (tomato paste) and cook for under a minute. Then add Shirley’s Jollof Paste and simmer it for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add bouillon cube, thyme, chopped tomatoes, and scotch bonnet pepper. Cook it for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes become soft.
  5. Stir continuously and cook the sauce for about 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure the sauce is not burning at the bottom.
  6. Now add the meat to the sauce and coat it well. Cook it on a medium-low flame to infuse the flavors into the meat.
  7. Wash the rice thoroughly in cold water. Soak the rinsed rice in boiled water while the stew is cooking. Boiled water helps remove excess starch, making the final dish glumpy or sticky.
  8. Check the stew; if it is thick and an oily film is formed on the surface, remove half of the meat. Set it aside for serving with rice (Ghanaians love to eat jollof rice with extra stew on the side.)
  9. Strain the rice and add it to the stew. Add the salt to the taste.
  10. Add enough water or broth to completely cover the rice in the stew. (You can also add more water if the rice is hard.) Stir it to mix well and bring to a boil on high heat. Now reduce to heat to medium.
  11. Add the peas and carrots (optional) when the moisture has nearly all gone. 
  12. Cover the pot with parchment paper( that help to lock in flavor and moisture and add natural cooking pressure). Put the airtight lid on the top. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes.
  13. Once the rice is cooked, remove the lid and parchment paper.
  14. Fluff it up with a fork, and your Ghana Style Jollof Rice is ready to be served.
  15. Serve the Ghanaian-style Jollof Rice with the meat on top and garnish with fresh parsley or coriander leaves.