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 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, ginger, and sometimes tomato paste. Various types of meat are also usually added.

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.

Want to Save This Recipe?

Enter your email & I'll send it to your inbox. Plus, get great new recipes from me every week!

Save Recipe

By submitting this form, you consent to receive emails from Healthier Steps.

What is Jollof Rice?

The Jollof rice recipe is a tasty and well-seasoned rice cooked in a spicy tomato broth. Jollof’s making is a point of national pride, with the rivalry between Nigeria and Ghana becoming quite fierce, and now including other countries.

There are now judged cooking competitions for this recipe, that garner attention from the worldwide African diaspora.

I enjoyed Nigerian jollof rice and Nigerian fried rice when I lived in England 25 years ago. I first learned to make it from my Nigerian friends, but I didn’t make this popular Nigerian rice dish for years until I moved to Ohio about 5 years ago.

In Ohio, I started going to a Ghanaian church, and every week they would serve delicious vegetarian Ghanaian jollof rice. My love for Jollof rice (Ghana Style) was reignited and I grew very close to the members of the church until I had to leave.

jollof rice in white bowls on a white background

What Does Jollof Rice Taste Like?

The food has a heavenly taste, without exaggeration. Its flavJollof rice has a heavenly taste, rich and strong, crafted from a blend of sweet and spicy spices, with a smooth texture and mild flavor. It is cooked in a stew with onion and tomato puree, chili, and garlic, while ginger and curry powder add a spicy, sweet, and savory touch. Describing the taste is difficult, but the love for Jollof rice is undeniable.

Ingredients 

The Wolof tribe of Senegal is said to be the originator of Jollof rice. However, other countries across Africa are now creating this supreme dish in their unique ways.

Jollof is a mood, a cultural phenomenon, and knowing how to make perfect, delicious jollof rice is the ultimate glory of any cook.

After all, this is the root of Nigeria’s and Ghana’s never-ending conflict. A war in which everyone knows who won, hands down.

Here, I’ll share some tips for making the best jollof rice in the world with you, and I hope this will lead to world peace. Keep reading to see what is Jollof rice’s secret ingredient.

1. Type of Rice

Soggy Jollof rice is one of the worst things that spoil your meal. This is why it’s crucial to use the right rice.

Any long-grain rice, such as Basmati, would usually do, or long-grain parboiled rice. You’re good to go if you wash the rice properly and drain it well.

2. Liquids

Jollof rice can be cooked with either stock or water, depending on your preference (along with the appropriate spices).

Starting with equal parts rice and liquid is a good rule of thumb. For instance, use around 2 ½ cups of stock/water to make three cups of jollof rice.

3. Peppers 

Peppers are a crucial ingredient in Jollof rice, coming second only to rice in importance. The dish is traditionally red and thick, and extra raw tomatoes should be avoided as they can lighten the color. Bell peppers are a fantastic source of fiber, vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin A, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, and manganese. Red bell peppers also contain carotenoids, which have been linked to anticancer effects.

The scotch bonnet pepper is also used in Jollof rice for flavor and heat. This pepper variety contains vitamins B-6, C, folate, and niacin, as well as minerals like magnesium, iron, and phosphorus. It is also a source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Capsaicin, which is found in peppers, has anti-inflammatory effects and is believed to be beneficial for arthritis and asthma, as well as for lowering blood pressure levels.

Overall, Jollof rice is a flavorful and nutritious dish that incorporates the health benefits of peppers, making it a great addition to any diet.

4. Tomatoes

The unique red Jollof color is achieved through the use of tomato purée or tomato paste. Substitute tomato purée for the rest of the tomatoes.

Tomatoes are high in antioxidants, which aid in the fight against free radicals in the body, which cause cell damage.

Free radicals are produced when our bodies burn food for energy and can accelerate aging as well as cause cancer.

Tomatoes also contain lycopene which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure levels by relaxing blood vessels.

They also contain vitamin C, which is good for healthy skin and improves iron absorption from plant-based foods like spinach.

Tomatoes contain vitamin A, which helps improve eyesight; they also promote healthy skin, hair, and nails and maintain good vision.

Additionally, they contain vitamin B6, which supports cell development and growth and helps keep a healthy immune system.

5. Ginger and Garlic

Ginger and garlic contain several essential nutrients.

Their use has been found to prevent diabetes, lower blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, ease nausea and vomiting, improve digestion, improve circulation, enhance immunity, reduce menstrual pain, and may be used to treat cancer.

6. Onions

Don’t skip on the onions in your jollof rice; they add a deep, distinct flavor. Onions are one of the essential ingredients in making jollof rice.

In fact, without onions, there is no jollof rice. Onions give your Jollof rice a pleasant flavor and are very nutritious.

When making jollof rice, you can put as many onions as you want to get the desired flavor and smell in jollof rice.

There are different types of onions, and the type you use when cooking depends on your taste and preference, but most people prefer to use red onions for cooking and yellow ones for eating raw.

7. Oil/Butter

Everyone has their jollof rice recipe. But do you know the importance of oil or vegan butter in your rice?

Oil is important to add to your jollof rice. This is because it helps in the process of bringing out the flavor of spices.

This is the process where a substance changes color and then tastes sweet. Oil is also important as it helps prevent your rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

If you are using a non-stick pot, you don’t need to worry about sticking, but if you have used a normal pan, adding oil/butter will help prevent the food from sticking. In addition, the oil helps give that brownish look to your rice.

Spices For Jollof Rice

  • Seasonings and Spices

The key to jollof rice is using the correct spices. If the jollof rice isn’t well-spiced, it won’t be very colorful or tasty.

A variety of herbs and spices can be used to flavor j rice; some common ones are thyme, curry powder, scotch bonnet pepper, ginger, garlic, salt, and bay leaves.

  • Thyme

The benefits of thyme are well-documented. It’s been shown to help reduce inflammation and fight off bacterial infections.

In addition, it has antifungal properties and can reduce bloating, flatulence, and cramping associated with intestinal gas. It also reduces nausea and has anti-diarrheal properties that can help ease stomach upset.

  • Curry powder

Curry powder is one of the most popular spice blends in the world, used in a variety of cuisines, such as Indian, Caribbean, Central, and South American.

It is a blend of spices and herbs that are commonly combined with various foods to impart their distinctive flavors. The blend 

Curry powder is made with a lot of spices (typically contains turmeric, cumin seeds, fennel seeds or aniseed (fennel or caraway), cardamom pods, peppercorns, coriander seeds, etc.) that are all beneficial for your health.

When mixed, you get a tasty seasoning that also helps with digestion, heart health, cancer, and more.

ingredients for jollof rice

How To Make Jollof Rice?

When cooking jollof rice, I prefer to use long-grain brown rice but you can use golden sella basmati long-grain 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 long grain rice and set it aside. Puree the tomato, bell pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, and Scotch bonnet pepper in a blender until smooth.
  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add pureed sauce from the 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. Cook the rice until tender and fluffy, usually about 50 minutes cook time.
    Note that brown rice will need about 45 to 50 minutes to be properly cooked.
  • Serve jollof rice with Ghanain Red Red Stew and fried plantains or for a healthier version baked plantains.

step by step images

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Jollof Rice Healthy?

In Nigeria, people eat Jollof rice every day, and it is believed to be the food that keeps Nigerians healthy and strong. It is believed that it has medicinal properties that keep people away from diseases.

Made from a variety of ingredients, and this makes it healthy. Let’s look at the ingredients that make up this rice and see how they will benefit you.

Is Jollof Rice A Nigerian Food?

Jollof rice is a common dish in the West African country of Nigeria. 

According to many sources, Jollof rice was originally known as Benachin, which means “one-pot” in Wolof. The information on Wikipedia states that Jollof has Senegal roots. The word Jollof comes from the Wolof language spoken in Senegal and Gambia.

Because of the name, I am confident that it originated in Senegal/Gambia. However, it would be really helpful if you Nigerians or Ghanaians could explain it in detail.

What is the secret ingredient?

Jollof rice has various recipes depending on the region, but the key ingredients usually include rice, onions, tomatoes, and a blend of spices like ginger, garlic, and chili peppers, including cumin, thyme, and paprika.

Some recipes may use smoked fish, meat, or coconut milk for added flavor. The key to this delicious rice is the careful selection and preparation of ingredients, as well as the proper technique for cooking and seasoning the rice.

How Long Can Jollof Rice Stay In The Fridge?

If you have any leftovers, they’ll last 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Allow cooling before transferring to an airtight container. It can be reheated on the stovetop before serving. 

Can You Freeze Jollof Rice?

Yes, jollof rice freezes nicely and can be stored for up to three months. If you’re not using protein, you may reheat it in the microwave straight from the freezer.

Otherwise, let it defrost overnight in the refrigerator before reheating it on the stovetop.

Is Jollof Rice Vegan?

To cook Jollof rice, traditional recipes call for meat such as chicken, goat, or beef, as well as a blend of spices.

This recipe is vegan because the ingredients used to make it does not contain any kind of animal or dairy items.

As long as you stay away from anything with dairy or meat in it, you probably won’t have any problems calling yours vegan.

Jollof rice has its roots in West Africa and is not a Jamaican dish. However, rice dishes with similar ingredients can be found in the Caribbean, such as the Jamaican dish “Rice and Peas” which uses rice, beans, and spices. Although there may be some similarities between Jamaican rice dishes and Jollof rice, they have distinct cultural origins.

Does Jollof Rice Make You Fat?

No! Jollof rice does not make you fat.

Overeating, however, can lead to weight gain. No matter how healthy a diet is, you will gain weight if you eat too much of it.

While it is easier to overeat rice than a salad, it contributes differently to overall cardiovascular health.

Because rice is abundant in carbohydrates, most people believe it “causes” weight gain. This is false; carbohydrates do not cause weight gain on their own.

It is the consumption of an excessive amount of the wrong sort of carbohydrate that causes weight gain.

Can Dogs Eat Jollof Rice?

No, dogs cannot consume jollof rice.

Although rice is safe for dogs to consume, it contains some ingredients, such as garlic, onion, ginger, vegetable oil, pepper, tomatoes, and curry powder, that can be baneful for them and can cause major health problems.

Try My Other Flavorful Rice Recipes:

Landscape view of rice in white bowls on white background

If you enjoyed this recipe, please save it. If you would love to see more, join me on YoutubeInstagramFacebook & Twitter!

Get discounted copies of my cookbook here.

Fortunately, because of the Ads on our website, readers and subscribers of Healthier Steps are sponsoring many underprivileged families.

Categories

Nutrition

(Per portion)
  • Energy: 209 kcal / 874 kJ
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Carbs: 26 g

Cook Time

  • Preparation: 10 min
  • Cooking: 1 h
  • Ready in: 1 h 10 min
  • For: 6 Servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Wash the brown rice and set aside. Puree tomato, bell pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, and Scotch Bonnet pepper in a blender until smooth.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.