If you never had Jollof rice before I would highly recommend trying it!
Nigerian rice is made with basmati rice, tomato stew, beef stock, onions, garlic, and ginger. It has a smoky spicy deliciousness that is so satisfying and delightful.
Jollof rice is a popular dish that originates from West Africa, specifically from countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and the Gambia. It is often considered a cultural staple and a source of national pride in these regions. The debate about which country makes the best jollof rice is a topic of friendly rivalry among food enthusiasts.
I was first introduced to jollof rice by my son’s best friend. He and his family make large batches of tomato stew and freeze them in packages to always have on hand to prpare the Jollof rice quicker. He makes the rice using 10 heated-up habaneros, which is way too hot for me to handle! Now that would be hot!
What is the method for making Jollof Rice
I have tried making jollof rice in many different ways and I feel that I can confidently say that I have achieved the best method for cooking jollof rice.
The first time that I made jollof rice it turned out to be a complete flop. The rice was under cooked and the taste was horrible. Some methods have you cooking it on the stove, and some in the oven. Some methods suggest to par cook the rice before placing it in the stew and simmering.
I am sure all of these methods work for the experienced Jollof rice maker and that they would have their very own tricks to make it come out perfect. I have found the oven method to work each and every time that I make the jollof rice. It honestly comes out perfect!
The method for making Jollof rice goes like this:
- Start out by making the stew by blending up all of the tomato stew ingredients in a Vitamix to a puree
- Cook the tomato stew over the stove for approximately 20 minutes. I like to skim off any froth that may billow to the top
- In a large braising Creuset pan (or heavy oven-safe pan) I cook down 3 medium sliced red onions. Once the onions are softened and translucent I remove 1/2 of the onions and save them until the end
- Now we add in some tomato paste, spices, rice, bay leaf, fresh thyme, beef stock, and then we add in that beautiful simmered tomato stew. Place the lid on and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and DO NOT OPEN the lid for another 15 minutes. It continues to finish cooking for those 15 minutes. Very important.
- Now we remove the lid, add in those delicious sweet cooked onions and then we use a fork gently to lift the rice while mixing in the onions.
turn up the heat!
The main ingredient that is really the star of the show is commonly called the Scotch Bonnet or Harbanero. The “Scotch bonnet” is also known by other names in different regions. Here are some alternative names for the Scotch bonnet pepper:
- Bonney pepper
- Caribbean red pepper
- Bahama mama
- Boabs bonnet
- Goat pepper
- Jamaican hot pepper
- Martinique pepper
- Scotty Bons
- Ball of fire pepper
- Habanero pepper (though it’s important to note that while Scotch bonnet and habanero peppers are similar, they do have slight differences in flavor and heat)
Regardless of what you call it, they are hot! I started out making this recipe using 1 scotch bonnet only. I have now graduated to 2 Haraneros and that is good for now! I would love to hear how many scotch bonnets you would like to add in your batch of Jollof rice!
A recipe for success
As I mentioned above, I have been searching around for some time trying different Jollof recipes without success. I then stumbled upon a youtube video by the New York Times for a Jollof Rice by: Yewande Komolafe. Yewande Komolafe is an author, and recipe writer, who has worked in many famous restaurants. She wrote an article for the New York Times called 10 Essential Nigerian Recipes.
Her video for making the Jollof rice is clickable here: https://youtu.be/Ul5WBj1m_Xg
I would highly recommend giving the video a watch as Yewande’s explanation includes the making of the recipe including her life experiences around the jollof rice. It is really well done.
The full recipe for Jollof Rice made by Yewande Komolafe is clickable here: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1020288-jollof-rice
let's talk quick about The "Rice-sauce-stock ratio"
A quick and helpful tip is knowing the proper rice to sauce to stock ratio. I think this is absolutely th key to successful Jollof rice.
When I made the tomato stew part of the recipe I had a perfect measurement for 2 batches of Jollof rice. I divided the batch into two parts. I used one part and froze one.
It is wonderful to have the tomato stew for two perfectly portioned batches of Jollof rice.
The ratio of rice to sauce to stock is basically this:
2 cups Tomato Stew
2 cups Beef, Chicken or Vegetable stock
3 cups Basmati Rice
Tomato Stew "obe Ata" Ingredients:
- 1 red onion rough chop
- 1-2 red peppers rough chop
- 1 inch ginger
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 habaneros or scotch bonnet peppers, just pull out the stem
- 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp. beef stock
- 1 tbsp. curry powder
- 1 can Aylmer Whole Tomatoes (796 ml.)
- 1 tsp. salt
Tomato Stew: Instructions
To a blender or Vitamix:
Add red onion, red peppers, garlic, ginger, habaneros, smoked paprika, curry powder, beef stock, and a can of whole tomatoes. Blend to a pureed consistency.
Add the tomato puree to a skillet and cook over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes. Add salt around the 15-minute mark. I like to skim off any foam that may bubble to the surface while it’s cooking.
Divide the batch into 2 equal portions.
You should have 2 equal cups of tomato stew.
I like to freeze one portion and then use one portion.
Jollof rice : Ingredients
- 2-3 red onions sliced
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tbsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp. turmeric
- 1/2 tbsp. curry powder
- 2-3 tbsp. tomato paste
- 5 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups stock *beef, chicken or vegetable*
- 3 cups basmati rice
Jollof rice: Instructions
For the Jollof rice, we start by adding the canola oil to a heavy oven-safe pot and preferably a Creuset Braiser.
Add in the onions. Cook until they turn translucent soft and slightly sweet. Remove half of the onions and reserve them on a plate to add at the end.
Sprinkle spices and tomato paste and cook for 1 more minute stirring the whole time so it doesn’t burn.
Add in the garlic, bay leaf and fresh thyme. Stir slightly.
Add in the rice, the tomato stew, and the beef stock.
Stir gently with a fork just to disperse the rice evenly around.
Cover and bake in the oven for a timed out 35 minutes.
Remove after 35 minutes and then resist the urge to remove the lid. Do not lift the lid. Leave it to rest for a timed 15 more minutes. This is part of the cooking process.
Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
Enjoy your beautiful jollof rice!
Spicy Jollof Rice Recipe
Tomato Stew Ingredients:
- * 1 red onion rough chop
- * 1-2 red peppers rough chop
- * 1 inch ginger
- * 4 cloves garlic
- * 2 habaneros or scotch bonnet peppers just pull out the stem
- * 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
- * 1 tbsp. beef stock
- * 1 tbsp. curry powder
- * 1 can Aylmer Whole Tomatoes 796 ml.
- * 1 tsp. salt
Jollof Rice Ingredients:
- * 2-3 red onions sliced
- * 1/2 cup canola oil
- * 4 garlic cloves minced
- * 1/2 tbsp. smoked paprika
- * 1 tbsp. turmeric
- * 1/2 tbsp. curry powder
- * 2-3 tbsp. tomato paste
- * 5 fresh thyme sprigs
- * 1 bay leaf
- * 2 cups stock *beef chicken or vegetable*
- * 3 cups basmati rice
- * 2 cups Tomato Stew
Instructions for the Tomato Stew:
- To a blender or Vitamix add red onion, red peppers, garlic, ginger, habaneros, smoked paprika, curry powder, beef stock, and a can of whole tomatoes. Blend to a pureed consistency.
- Add the tomato puree to a skillet and cook over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes. Add salt around the 15-minute mark. I like to skim off any foam that may bubble to the surface while it's cooking.
- Divide the batch into 2 equal portions.
- You should have 2 equal cups of tomato stew.
- I like to freeze one portion and then use one portion.
For the Jollof rice:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Start by adding the canola oil to a heavy oven-safe pot and preferably a Creuset Braiser.
- Add in the onions. Cook until they turn translucent soft and slightly sweet. Remove half of the onions and reserve them on a plate to add at the end.
- Sprinkle spices and tomato paste and cook for 1 more minute stirring the whole time so it doesn't burn.
- Add in the garlic, bay leaf and fresh thyme. Stir slightly.
- Add in the rice, the tomato stew, and the beef stock.
- Stir gently with a fork just to disperse the rice evenly around.
- Cover and bake in the oven for a timed out 35 minutes.
- Remove after 35 minutes and then resist the urge to remove the lid. Do not lift the lid. Leave it to rest for a timed 15 more minutes. This is part of the cooking process.
- Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
- Enjoy your beautiful jollof rice!
more recipe inspiration
Indulge in an african tradtion
As you take your first mouthful of this aromatic and flavorful Jollof Rice, let the symphony of spices and the rich blend of textures transport you to the heart of West African cuisine. Whether you’re savoring it with family and friends or indulging in a moment of personal culinary delight, Jollof Rice brings people together and offers a taste of tradition that transcends borders. With each bite, you’re not just enjoying a meal, but embracing a cultural journey that celebrates the joy of good food, shared stories, and cherished moments. So, go ahead and relish this culinary masterpiece that carries the essence of West Africa’s vibrant spirit and heritage.
Would love to hear how you enjoyed this recipe! Drop me a comment below!