Rice is the central food for so many cultures. I’m sure that all of us can think of a rice-based dish that reminds us of home, family, and good times.
No special occasion in Jamaica is complete without rice and peas, and I’m sure many of us have had Indian biryani or various Asian fried rice dishes. With rice being so versatile, I love trying different recipes, such as Dirty Rice, Turmeric Coconut Rice, Red Beans and Rice, and Jamaican Seasoned Rice.
Jollof rice is a common staple dish loved by many different cultures in Western/Sub-Saharan Africa. It is most commonly considered a Nigerian or Ghanaian recipe but is also common in Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Liberia, and many other countries in the region.
Each country and tribe has its own variations, as with any dish that spreads over a large area, but the basic idea is very similar. Traditionally, it is rice cooked in tomatoes, onions, garlic, and ginger, and sometimes tomato paste. Various meats are also usually added.
Jollof’s making is a point of national pride, with the rivalry between Nigeria and Ghana becoming quite fierce, and now includes other countries. There are actually now judged cooking competitions for jollof rice, that garner attention from the worldwide African diaspora.
I enjoyed Nigerian jollof rice when I lived in England, 25 years ago I first learned to make it from my Nigerian friends, for years I didn’t make this popular Nigerian dish until I moved to Ohio about 5 years ago. I started going to a Ghanian church and every week they would serve delicious vegetarian Ghanaian jollof rice. My love for jollof rice was reignited and I grew very close to the members of the church until I had to leave.
I recently a friend who is a Ghanian native asked my hubby if he could share his meal with him. I decided to make my Jollof rice recipe and serve it with my Jamaican Curry Potato Recipe. He told my hubby how much he enjoyed it, so then I had to share my jollof rice recipe with you.
Jollof Rice Recipe
- Long Grain Brown Rice
- Red Bell Pepper
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper (or cayenne pepper)
- Oil of choice
- Curry Powder
- Tomato Paste
- Vegetable Bouillon and Water (or vegetable broth)
- Salt to taste
How To Make Jollof Rice
To make jollof rice, I prefer to use long-grain brown rice because it is healthier than white rice.
Most traditional recipes call for Maggi bouillon cubes, but there are vegan bouillon cubes that you can use as a substitute. Otherwise, you can substitute the water for vegetable broth and add salt to taste.
- Wash the brown rice and set it aside. Puree tomato, bell pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, and Scotch Bonnet pepper in a blender until smooth.
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Add pureed sauce from blender, and cook while stirring for about 3 minutes.
- Stir in curry powder, thyme, tomato paste, and vegetable bouillon, and cook for another 2 minutes while stirring. Add rice and stir to coat it with the sauce.
- Add water or vegetable broth to the pot, and salt to taste. Bring to a full boil, then cover and reduce to low heat. Allow the rice to cook until tender and fluffy, usually about 50 minutes.
Note that brown rice will need about 45 to 50 minutes to be properly cooked.
Health Benefits of Rice
Rice is a staple food for nearly every culture. Everyone can usually think of a particular rice dish that was commonly made by their families to accompany meals or for special occasions, and as I mentioned for many African cultures it is jollof rice.
The reason why it is a great staple food is that it is high in carbohydrates. Carbs are demonized in our society now, but our ancestors found them to be an essential source of energy.
Our bodies need carbohydrates to function, and they are usually the easiest and cheapest food sources. Entire civilizations would go through famine and many would die because the staple crop failed, and they could not survive off of other foods.
Brown rice is the original grain when it has not been processed by having the bran and germ removed. These parts, combined with the endosperm, are what make brown rice a good energy source. This is because not only does it contain carbohydrates, it also has fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
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- Energy: 209 kcal / 874 kJ
- Fat: 10 g
- Protein: 3 g
- Carbs: 26 g
- Preparation: 10 min
- Cooking: 1 h
- Ready in: 1 h 10 min
- For: 6 Servings
- 3 cups long grain brown rice
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 inch ginger, chopped
- 1/2 Scotch Bonnet pepper, or 2 teaspoons Cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup oil
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 vegetable bouillon
- 2 1/2 cups water, or vegetable broth if omitting bouillon
- salt, to taste
- Wash the brown rice and set aside. Puree tomato, bell pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, and Scotch Bonnet pepper in a blender until smooth.
- Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add pureed sauce from blender, and cook while stirring for about 3 minutes. Add curry powder, thyme, tomato paste, and vegetable bouillon, and cook for another 2 minutes while stirring. Add rice and stir to coat it with the sauce.
- Add water or vegetable broth to the pot, and salt to taste. Bring to a full boil, then cover and reduce to low heat. Allow the rice to cook until tender and fluffy, usually about 50 minutes. Note that brown rice will need about 45 to 50 minutes to be properly cooked.