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What is African Jollof Rice How to Make it

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What is African Jollof Rice?

African Jollof rice is a popular West African dish eaten and loved in many countries. It is made from rice cooked in tomato paste and chicken stock with spices, veggies, and chicken, meat, or fish. This one-pot dish is party food. People enjoy it at weddings and holidays. It is a main meal with side dishes like salad or fried plantains.

The Origin of African Jollof Rice?

Jollof rice is first made in Senegal and then spread to other West African countries. This includes Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon. Today each country has its own version of Jollof rice. Every country claims they make the perfect version of Jollof rice. This initiates a Jollof war between countries. It is a fun competition where people from different countries cook Jollof rice with a unique twist. The more prominent Jollof war is between Nigeria and Ghana.

What are the other versions of Jollof Rice?

Although the main recipe of Jollof rice is the same. But few spices and cooking techniques make it different from others. Like in Senegal,

Jollof rice is known as “Thieboudienne” or “Ceebu Jen.” Jollof rice is cooked in a rich tomato sauce with fish, vegetables, and fermented conch. But fish is the first season and fired then add to the rice. It gives a rich and pleasant savory taste to Jollof rice. Sometimes vegetables such as carrots, eggplant, cabbage, and cassava are cooked with Jollof rice.

While Nigerian Jollof is claimed to be the best and perfect Jollof rice. It is known for its red color and smokey flavor. Jollof rice is cooked in a tomato sauce with curry spices and chicken. But it is cooked over a wood fire in Nigeria, which gives it a smoky flavor. Also, a delicious burnt-crunchy rice crust forms at the bottom of the cooking pot.

As for Ghana, people use fragrant long-grain rice, curry spices, and meat instead of chicken or fish. It is more spicy than other Jollof versions extra-spicy scotch bonnet pepper is added to the tomato sauce. Also, they add less or no veggies and use fragrant Jasmine rice like Senegalese Jollof rice. While Nigerians use parboiled rice or golden sella basmati rice, which cooks quickly and is less mushy.

Despite what version of Jollof rice you like, Shirley’s Jollof Paste can make the perfect Jollof rice. It has a unique blend of spices that gives a flavorful twist to your Jollof rice recipe. Add 2 tablespoons of Shirley’s Jollof Paste into the stew base and enjoy the delicious African Jollof rice.

How to make African Jollof Rice?

To make African Jollof rice, you may need the following things.

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 75 minutes

Total: 90 minutes

Serves: 4 to 6 servings


  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 4 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup tomatoes peeled and chopped or canned diced
  • 3 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small piece of fermented conch (yett) or a few drops of fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chili
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt


For making tomato base stew:

  1. Rinse the rice several times with cold water until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
  2. Take a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Shimmer the oil and add the onion and bell pepper.
  3. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the onion and pepper soften, and stir it with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add the tomato paste and lower the heat to its lowest setting. Cook more and often stir with a wooden spoon to avoid scorching until the tomato paste darkens. Cook more for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Now add the chopped tomatoes and their juice and stir well to combine.
  6. Add the vegetable stock, bay leaf, fermented conch (yett) or fish sauce, salt, pepper, and Scotch bonnet.
  7. Raise the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.
  8. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the oil rises to the surface, 10 to 15 minutes.

For making Jollof rice:

  1. Take a steamer or couscoussier, add the uncooked rice, cover tightly, and steam for about 15 minutes.
  2. Stir the rice once or twice to make sure it cooks evenly.
  3. The rice is done when it is half cooked(the outer rim of each grain is translucent, but it’s still crunchy to the taste.)
  4. Remove and stir to prevent clumping.
  5. Transfer the rice to the tomato stew. Stir and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes or until the grains are soft.
  7. Uncover and stir to release the steam and fluff the grains.
  8. Taste to see that the rice is cooked. If not, add a few drops of water, cover again, and continue cooking for a few more minutes.
  9. Remove from the heat and let it rest for a few minutes before fluffing it up with a fork.
  10. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Jollof rice is an easy dish and can be made ahead of time. You just need to make its stew base which can be easily stored in your fridge. So you can enjoy Jollof rice whenever you want. And if you are hosting a party, friends, family night, or gatherings. Make them surprised with this recipe.

The stew base can be stored in the refrigerator for a week in an airtight container. Or you can freeze the stew base for up to 3 months.

People love to eat Jollof rice leftovers and eat them as lunch the next day. Jollof rice leftover can be stored overnight in the fridge. Use a microwave-safe or airtight container. Next day take out the Jollof rice from the fridge and

warm it on the stovetop over a gentle heat or in the microwave.