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Discover the Rich Flavors of Authentic Nigerian Jollof Rice

Follow our easy-to-follow recipe for Nigerian Jollof Rice, a vibrant and flavorful West African dish that is the perfect centerpiece to any festive gathering or a warm family dinner.

July 21, 2023
Nigerian Jollof RicePhoto By Canva
Difficulty Easy
Servings 6 people
Preparation 20 mins
Cooking 40 mins
Total 60 mins



  1. Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This will remove the excess starch and prevent the rice from becoming sticky.
  2. Blend the tomatoes, red bell pepper, and scotch bonnet pepper until smooth.
  3. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, sautéing until they are soft and fragrant.
  4. Stir in the tomato-pepper blend and cook for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
  5. Add the thyme, curry powder, paprika, bay leaf, and the crushed stock cube to the pot. Stir well to combine the spices with the sauce.
  6. Add the rinsed rice to the pot, stirring well to ensure that each grain is coated in the sauce.
  7. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the rice cook for about 30 minutes, or until it is cooked through and all the liquid has been absorbed.
  8. Once the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork and adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary.
  9. Serve your Nigerian Jollof Rice hot, with your choice of accompaniments.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Nigerian Jollof Rice
Serves 6
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Protein 6 g12%
Total Fat 7 g9%
Sodium 200 mg8.7%
Potassium 240 mg5.1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


  • Use long-grain parboiled rice. This is the traditional choice for Nigerian Jollof Rice. Parboiled rice holds its shape well during cooking and absorbs flavors beautifully.
  • Rinsing the rice before cooking helps remove excess starch and prevents the grains from sticking together. This is a crucial step in achieving the right texture for your Jollof Rice.
  • If you want to make your Jollof Rice extra special, you can add diced vegetables or cooked meat. Just add them to the pot a few minutes before the rice is fully cooked.
  • Make sure to cook the tomato-pepper blend thoroughly. This is called "frying the stew" and is crucial for the color and flavor of the dish.
  • If you can't handle too much heat, you can reduce the amount of scotch bonnet pepper or remove it entirely from the recipe.
  • Cook the rice with chicken or vegetable stock to infuse it with extra flavor. Alternatively, you can use water and add bouillon cubes for a richer taste.
  • Once the rice is added to the pot, gently stir to combine all the ingredients. Afterward, avoid over-stirring to prevent the rice from becoming mushy.
  • Simmer on low heat. After bringing the rice to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the rice to simmer slowly until it is fully cooked and fluffy.
  • To achieve a smoky flavor similar to the traditional cooking method, cover the pot with a layer of aluminum foil or place banana leaves on top before covering with the lid.
  • You can customize your Nigerian Jollof Rice by adding vegetables such as peas, carrots, bell peppers, or protein like chicken, shrimp, or smoked fish. Add these ingredients about 10 minutes before the rice is fully cooked.
  • Before serving, garnish the Jollof Rice with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for a burst of freshness and color.
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Jollof Rice is a popular West African dish enjoyed in Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, and many other countries in the region. The Nigerian version of this delightful one-pot dish is a riot of flavors that combine the richness of rice cooked in a tomato sauce, infused with a blend of aromatic spices, and often served with fried plantains, coleslaw, or grilled chicken. As the vibrant red color of Nigerian Jollof Rice graces your dining table, you're not just serving a dish, you're creating a feast. Let's dive into this recipe and bring a taste of Nigeria to your kitchen.

Which Is Better Ghana Or Nigeria Jollof Rice?

The "Jollof Rice Wars" between Nigeria and Ghana are a well-known culinary debate in West Africa. This rivalry often boils down to personal preference and cultural ties rather than an objective best version.

Nigerian Jollof Rice tends to be a bit spicier, using more peppers and spices in the mix. The rice often has a smoky flavor, which comes from the slightly burned crust that forms at the bottom of the pot during cooking, a part known as "party rice" among Nigerians.

Ghanaian Jollof Rice, on the other hand, usually incorporates more vegetables into the dish, such as peas, carrots, and bell peppers. The method of preparation is slightly different, which often results in a moister and softer texture in the rice.

The key ingredients, rice and a tomato-based sauce, are common in both versions, but the specific methods and additional ingredients can vary, leading to different flavor profiles. Therefore, the "better" Jollof Rice will depend on your taste buds and personal preference.

However, whether it's Nigerian or Ghanaian, there's no denying that a well-prepared Jollof Rice is a flavorful and satisfying dish! It is best to try both versions and decide which one suits your palate the best.

What Does Jollof Rice Taste Like?

Jollof rice is a vibrant and flavorful dish known for its signature taste.

At its base, Jollof rice carries the rich and slightly sweet flavors of stewed tomatoes and onions, often cooked down into a paste with red bell peppers. There's a smoky undertone to the dish, which comes from the controlled charring of the rice at the bottom of the pot.

Spices such as thyme, curry powder, and bay leaves add an aromatic depth to the dish. The use of chili peppers and sometimes ginger provides a spicy kick, though the level of heat can vary based on personal preference or regional style.

Additionally, the use of ingredients like chicken broth, beef, or fish can imbue the rice with a savory taste. Some versions may also have a hint of sweetness if carrots or sweet peas are added.

Overall, Jollof rice is a savory and spicy dish with a slightly smoky flavor. It has a unique taste, and every bite is a medley of flavors that makes it truly unforgettable. It's a comfort food that captures the essence of West African cuisine.

Is Nigerian Jollof Rice The Best?

The debate on which country makes the best Jollof rice, often humorously referred to as the "Jollof Wars," is a topic of playful contention among West African nations, particularly between Nigeria and Ghana.

The Nigerian Jollof rice is known for its distinct smoky flavor, which is achieved by reducing the heat to the barest minimum once all ingredients are in the pot, and allowing the rice to 'burn' slightly at the bottom. This gives the dish a distinct taste and aroma, not found in other versions of the dish. It often contains parboiled long-grain rice, tomatoes, onions, Scotch bonnet peppers, and a variety of spices. Meat, fish, or vegetables are also often included.

However, whether Nigerian Jollof is the "best" is subjective and largely depends on individual tastes and preferences. Some people might prefer the Ghanaian version, which often has a lighter, fluffier texture and often uses jasmine or basmati rice and includes ingredients like ginger and local spices.

Ultimately, the best Jollof rice is often down to personal preference, and trying the different versions can be a delightful culinary journey. But it's undeniable that Nigerian Jollof rice holds a special place in many people's hearts.

Which African Has The Best Jollof Rice?

The question of which African country makes the best Jollof rice is a topic of light-hearted debate, particularly among West African nations. This dish is a popular staple in many countries in the region, and each has its unique way of preparing it.

Nigeria and Ghana are the two countries that are most often mentioned in this debate, with passionate advocates on both sides arguing for their respective national versions of Jollof rice.

Nigerian Jollof rice is renowned for its full-bodied and smoky flavor. This is typically achieved by parboiling the rice, then cooking it with a blend of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices, and allowing it to steam in its own juices until it absorbs all the flavors and attains a slightly smoky, intensely flavorful finish.

On the other hand, Ghanaian Jollof rice is appreciated for its fluffy, distinct grains and its robust use of spices and ingredients like ginger. It's cooked using a one-pot method where the rice is cooked in a rich, flavorful stock, imbuing each grain with a taste that's as bold as it is satisfying.

However, other countries like Senegal, where Jollof rice (or 'Thieboudienne' as it's known there) originated, also have their unique takes. Senegalese Jollof, for instance, often includes a wider variety of vegetables and uses broken or medium-grain rice.

In the end, the "best" Jollof rice is a matter of personal preference. Every version of this beloved dish offers its own unique, flavorful experience, and exploring them all can be a fantastic culinary adventure.

What To Serve with Nigerian Jollof Rice?

Nigerian Jollof Rice, a beloved and flavorful West African dish, can be beautifully complemented by a variety of delectable accompaniments. The rich and aromatic Jollof Rice pairs harmoniously with grilled or fried chicken, offering a delightful combination of savory and tender flavors. For a touch of sweetness, serve the rice alongside fried ripe plantains, known as "dodo" in Nigerian cuisine. The addition of Nigerian Moi Moi, a steamed bean pudding made with grounded peeled beans and spices, provides a satisfying and contrasting texture to the meal. To balance the meal with freshness, a colorful Nigerian Salad with a tangy dressing and crunchy vegetables enhances the overall dining experience. These accompaniments enrich the Jollof Rice with diverse flavors and textures, ensuring a delightful feast that captures the essence of West African cuisine.

Here are our delicious recipes that you can serve with Nigerian Jollof Rice:

History of Nigerian Jollof Rice

Jollof rice is a colorful and flavorful one-pot rice dish popular in many West African countries. It's a celebratory dish and a staple at social functions, gatherings, and parties. The origins of Jollof rice can be traced back to the Senegambian region that was ruled by the Jolof Empire, hence the name 'Jollof'. It spread across West Africa with trade and migration and developed distinct regional variations.

The Nigerian Jollof rice recipe stands out for its simplicity, ease of cooking, and rich flavor. It is usually prepared with long-grain parboiled rice, tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, salt, and red pepper. Other ingredients often include curry powder, thyme, and bay leaves for enhanced flavor. The secret to getting the best out of your Jollof rice lies in the frying of the tomato and pepper mix. This is what gives it that distinct taste and the rich, inviting color that the dish is known for.

Nigerians are very passionate about their Jollof rice and it's a must-have at every party. The dish isn't just about the taste, but also about the communal and celebratory culture of the people. Cooking Jollof rice is often a large family affair, with everyone lending a hand in the preparation. And while the debate rages on about which country makes the best Jollof rice, one thing is certain: whether it's from Nigeria, Ghana, or Senegal, a well-prepared dish of Jollof rice is a joy to behold and a delight to the taste buds.

Recipe byPetite Gourmets

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