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Seasoned Nigerian Jollof Rice Explained Recipe

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Nigerian Jollof rice is a popular dish in Nigeria and across West Africa. Although it is equally popular in the rest of the world. But Nigerian Jollof rice is known for its vibrant red color, rich flavors, and aromatic spices. Jollof rice is a staple food for parties and weddings. Senegal is the birthplace of Jollof rice, but it is spread throughout Africa and the world.

Today Jollof rice is eaten in many regions of West Africa, and each country has its version. The basic Jollof rice recipe contains rice, vegetables, and spices. But some include meat or fish. Also, it is called by many names; for example, people of Mali call it zaame or nsamé, and in Gambia, it is called benachin. But in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Nigeria, it is called jollof. There are endless variations in each region Jollof rice version. 

Senegalese and Ghanaians use fragrant Jasmine rice, while Nigerians use parboiled or Golden Sella basmati rice. It cooks more quickly and is less prone to mushiness and clumping. Also, in Nigeria, Caribbean-style curry powder, dried thyme, bay leaf, ginger, and garlic are used to season Jollof rice. But Senegalese Jollof rice has a seasoning of rof, fresh parsley paste mixed with other spices served with fermented seafood. 

Nigerian Jollof rice is a main course meal at weddings, parties, and holidays. It is paired with side dishes like fried plantains, coleslaw, chicken, beef, goat, and fish (fried, grilled, or stewed) or eggs (fried, boiled, or scrambled). It may also eat with MoinMoin, a steamed dish of skinned, pureed black-eyed beans wrapped in the MoinMoin leaves. The dish is loved and has become a subject of friendly debates and competitions across West Africa. As different countries and regions have different variations of Jollof rice.

Seasoned Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe.

Nigerian Jollof Rice is a flavorful and popular dish enjoyed at every party. This one-pot dish in which rice is cooked in a seasoned tomato sauce with carrots, peas, and green beans or chicken, beef, fish, and shrimp. You can also use Shirley’s Jollof Paste to enjoy the perfect seasoned Nigerian Jollof rice. It has a unique blend of spices that gives a tasty twist to your Jollof rice recipe. Add 2 tablespoons of Shirley’s Jollof Paste to the stew base and enjoy luscious Nigerian Jollof Rice.

Prep: 15 mins

Cook: 75 mins

Total: 90 mins

Serves: 4 to 6 servings


To make Nigerian Jollof rice, you need to collect things such as:

For stew base:

  • 3 medium (475g) plum tomatoes cored and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium red bell peppers or 2 red shepherd peppers stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 of a habanero pepper or Scotch bonnet stemmed and seeded
  • 1 medium (225g) red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups (355ml) Nigerian stock or chicken or beef stock

For Jollof rice:

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) peanut or vegetable oil divided
  • 1 medium (225g) red onion, thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 teaspoons Caribbean/Jamaican-style curry powder (or more if required)
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons (12g) unsalted butter, divided 
  • Kosher or sea salt 
  • Freshly ground black or white pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (355ml) Nigerian stock or chicken or beef stock
  • 2 cups (400g) long-grain rice or Golden Sella basmati, rinsed
  • 1 plum tomato (120g), halved, then sliced thinly crosswise into half-moons

How to make Seasoned Nigerian Jollof Rice?

To make seasoned Nigerian Jollof rice follow the steps.

  1. Blend a tomato paste:

Make a tomato paste with red pepper, habanero, or Scotch bonnet onion in the blender, and stock for a stew base. Blend for about 2 minutes or until a smooth puree forms. This will yield 5 cups (1.18L).

  1. Make a stew base:

Put this tomato paste in a pot to make a stew base for Jollof rice. Cook it over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 30 minutes or until reduced by half (roughly 2 1/2 cups; 590ml). Stir the mixture continuously and 

scrape the bottom occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

  1. Saatue the onions:

Heat 2 tablespoons of peanut or vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until it shimmers. Add half the sliced onion with the bay leaves, dried thyme, curry powder, a large pinch of black or white pepper, and salt. Cook and stir the mixture for about 3 minutes or until the onions soften.

  1. Add stew base to onions:

Add tomato paste and 2 teaspoons (8g) butter to the sauteed onions. Cook and stir continuously for about 3 minutes or until the tomato paste darkens. Now add the stew base

and cook it over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes or until it is reduced by half.

  1. Add the Nigerian or chicken, or beef stock:

Add the stock to the stew, cook over high heat, and bring it to a boil. Now add salt and pepper (white or black). Add curry powder to the taste if you feel the flavor is less.

  1. Add the rice to the sauce:

Add the rice to the pot and spread until it is evenly coated in sauce. Cover the pot with parchment paper or a double piece of foil and crimp around the edges to seal. Now put the lid on. This will help to lock in flavor in the rice and trap steam for cooking. 

  1. Put the pot on low flame:

Put the pot on low flame and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and, uncover the pot, stir the rice gently. Cover the pot again and cook for about 5 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

If rice is undercooked or still wet, cover and cook for 5 minutes more. So the liquid is absorbed into the rice.

  1. Add sliced tomato and onions:

Open the lid and add sliced tomato and the remaining sliced onion with the remaining 1 teaspoon of butter. Cook it until the butter is fully melted. 

  1. Serve the Seasoned Nigerian Jollof rice:

Remove the pot from the heat and leave the pot covered for about 10 minutes. Serve the rice with fried chicken, salad, or fried plantains.


  • Red shepherd peppers are similar to Nigerian tatashe peppers in taste. They give a deep red color and great flavor to Jollof rice. But red bell peppers can be used instead if you can’t find them. 
  • 3 teaspoons of butter is equal to 1 tablespoon of butter. To divide evenly, cut off a 1-tablespoon piece, then use markings on the wrapper to divide into three equal parts.
  • Use long-grain rice or parboiled rice for best results. They are less mushy and sticky.

How to make ahead and store the Seasoned Nigerian Jollof Rice?

You can enjoy Seasoned Nigerian Jolllof rice whenever you want to. Just prepare the stew base and refrigerate it in an airtight container for a week. It can also freeze for up to 3 months. And if you have any leftovers, you hit the jackpot. The leftover Jollof rice is so delicious, and many people love leftover jollof. 

Store the leftover in an airtight container and stored in the fridge. You can label and store it in the freezer for up to 4 days. You can enjoy leftover Jollof rice for lunch. Take the jollof rice from the refrigerator and reheat it in a pan. And if you are using a microwave, put rice in the microwave-safe bowl. Set the timer for 4 minutes, stir, then reheat for 1 minute so the rice can be fluffy.