Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Jollof Rice! What's the fuss?

What's the fuss about Jollof Rice? This dish is so scrumptious, I am yet to meet someone who doesn't like it. The origins of Jollof Rice is not exactly known but it is so popular with West African countries like Ghana and Nigeria. There are constant and continuous debates about which country makes the best Jollof Rice. Well, though I haven't tasted samples from different countries, I can put my finger up and say Ghanaian Jollof Rice is the best!

Cooking the best Jollof Rice is a bit tricky and a skill that needs to be mastered and perfected. It is not surprising that one of my favourite chefs, Jamie Oliver, caused an uproar in the African community when he recreated this dish without using traditional ingredients. Our Jollof Rice is so beloved that when you want to please an African Mama you better get it right! I have a number of ways of cooking Jollof Rice depending on the ingredients I have in my pantry. The recipe I have shared here is a simple one which is easy to replicate and you get good results all the time. If you do try it, please feel free to send feedback.

  • 2 x 400g canned tomatoes
  • 1 x 500g passata
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1300g long grain perfumed rice
  • 2 ½ cups of boiling water 
  • Oil ( 2 - 3 ladles)
  •  Piece of scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 3 gloves of garlic peeled
  • Thumb of fresh grated Ginger
  • 3 pieces of Cloves
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp all purpose spice or your favourite spice
  • 3 cubes of Maggie cubes
  •  Salt to taste 

  1. Blend the tomatoes, put in a pot with the passata and add the bay leaves. Place this on the hob and let it simmer to a thick paste. This may take 45 mins to an hour depending on the quantity of tomatoes. I suggest doing this well in advance, although this is time consuming, it reduces the cooking time and gives a lovely rich red colour to the Jollof rice. 
  2. Blend together the onions, garlic, ginger, and cloves. 
  3. In a heavy base pot, heat the oil and add the piece of scotch bonnet pepper. The scotch bonnet is just to infuse and flavour the oil. When the scotch bonnet pepper turns brown, take it out of the oil. Now add the blended onion mixture. Let the mixture fry till all the water evaporates and the mixture looks like bread crumbs.
  4. Now add the curry powder, turmeric powder and smoked paprika. Fry this mixture for about a minute to help release the oils from the spices. Lower the heat at this point if required to prevent the mixture from burning.
  5. Now add the tomato paste and stir.
  6. Add the all purpose spice, Maggie cubes and salt to taste. At this point ensure the tomato stew is well seasoned, actually a little bit over seasoned, add a bit more if required. This will ensure that the rice will be well coated with the flavours. Cover the stew and let it stew till all the water has evaporated. 
  7. Meanwhile, wash the rice in a colander until the water runs clear and drain all the water. Now add the rice to the tomato stew and stir well till all the rice is well coated with the stew. Let it cook for 2 minutes.
  8. Add the boiling water and stir well to ensure that all the lumpy rice has been broken up. Add a bit more salt to taste here. Turn up the heat, cover and let it boil for about 5 minutes or till almost all the water has simmered.
  9. Cover the rice with aluminium foil to seal in the steam, cover the pot and lower the heat further. If possible move the pot to a smaller hob on a minimum heat. At this stage, we are using just steam to cook the rice. Let the rice cook until soft, stir now and then to ensure all the rice gets cooked evenly. Only remove the foil once the rice is well cooked.
  10. For the last stage of the cooking, remove the foil and let the rice cook for about 5 minutes.
  11. Serve the Jollof Rice with your favourite spiced chicken, kebabs, salad, fried plantain or anything you fancy.


  1. This sounds really delicious and something new to try. Thank you for sharing this.


    1. Hello Simon, yes this is so delicious you would make it part of weekly meals. Do try it and let me have your feedback. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. This is really nice. It has become my go to jollof recipe

  3. Thank you Menyikoba, yes me too, it's my favourite recipe of all time. Enjoy it!

  4. thank you for your authentic recipes!
    i have subscribed! i am happy (:

  5. just a correction on your rice measurement, i tried to halv the entire recipe and measured 1.5 cup rice but was a disaster.The rice:tomato stew ratio was not equal.
    So for the second i measured it on a scale and got 3 cups rice= 650 g rice and was perfect! So won"t the 1300 g be 6 cups rice?

    1. Hello Kingsley, Thank you for your good feedback. Yes you are right in terms of standard cup measurements. I should have made reference that the cup measurement being referred to is a 400g tin more like the blue band margarine tin that is used as cup measurements in the markets of Ghana. I will correct the recipe to reflect standard cup measurements. The grams measurements is however right. Many thanks for such a wonderful feedback. Joana

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  7. Hello. I'm Ghanaian and we have our own jollof recipe, But i decided to combine your technique and spices and it turned out great!

  8. We're ghanaian, and of course we have our own recipe, but I found it would bring an inconsistent taste each time we made it. So i combined your techniques and spices with a few of what I know, and it turned out great. Next time i'll the stew more time to simmer to really concentrate the spices before adding the rice