This jollof rice recipe is a popular African dish of rice simmered with spicy tomato sauce with Scotch bonnets and lots of wonderful seasonings, the perfect party dish!
We're traveling the world in search of spicy food and this time we're stopping in Africa, my friend. Western Africa, to be more specific, for a spicy rice dish that is bound to become a new favorite recipe for you.
I'm talking about Jollof Rice, and I know you are going to love it.
Jollof Rice is a West African rice dish made with hot chili peppers along with tomatoes, African curry powder and a variety of herbs and spices to achieve fluffy, spicy rice fit to serve any occasion. It is one of the most popular African recipes outside of Africa, so often served in African homes.
It is considered a recipe of West Africa, though you will find variations of ingredients and cooking preparations from region to region and from cook to cook. There is even a local rivalry about which version is better, Nigerian jollof rice or Ghanaian jollof rice.
This version is truer to the Nigerian style, though both are delicious. As long as they're spicy!
Let's talk about how to make jollof rice, shall we?
Jollof Rice Ingredients
- Roma tomatoes. I prefer roughly chopped fresh tomatoes, but canned tomatoes work great here, too.
- Red Bell Peppers. You can use other colors (green, orange, yellow) or other milder peppers.
- Scotch Bonnet Peppers or Habanero Peppers. Optional, for a spicy version. You can use other hot peppers, or omit for a milder version of the recipe. Use local peppers available to you.
- Vegetable Oil. A neutral oil is best, though coconut oil is great here for extra flavor.
- Onion and Garlic.
- Tomato Paste.
- Chicken Stock. Bouillon cubes are commonly used as well.
- Seasonings. I use curry powder, dried thyme, salt and black pepper and bay leaves.
- Rice. I use white rice and prefer long grain rice, though you can use others to your preference. Basmati rice is great, but you may need to use less stock for medium grain rice. Parboiled rice can save a bit of cooking time.
How to Make Jollof Rice - the Recipe Method
Make the Tomato-Pepper Puree. Blend the tomatoes, bell peppers and scotch bonnet peppers together in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.
Cook the Onion and Garlic. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pot to medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes to soften. Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir. Cook 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
Simmer the Tomato-Pepper Puree. Add the tomato-pepper puree and stir. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, then reduce the heat to medium heat and cook for 15 minutes to let the flavors develop. The sauce will reduce and deepen in color.
Add Stock and Seasonings. Add chicken stock, curry powder, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
Add the Rice. Add rice and bay leaves and mix well. Reduce heat and cover the pot. Simmer on low until the liquid is absorbed and the Jollof rice is cooked to your liking, about 20 - 30 minutes. You may need a bit longer. Add in water or chicken stock if needed for more moisture. It should be light and fluffy (unless you prefer wetter rice).
Prep for Serving. Remove from heat and remove the lid. Let sit for 5 minutes and fluff the rice with a fork or wooden spoon, as desired. Serve it up!!
Boom! Done! Jollof rice is ready to serve! It looks and smells wonderful, doesn't it? I love this recipe. It's a great side dish that I think you are going to love.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- The Peppers. Jollof rice is traditionally made with local peppers. You'll find bell peppers for substance and either local Scotch Bonnet peppers or habanero peppers for a nice level of heat, though hot peppers are optional if you'd prefer a milder dish. Try out this recipe with African bird's eye peppers, which have a good level of heat, or use more commonly found peppers, like the jalapeno or serrano.
- Other Ingredients. You can easily vary up your jollof rice with other ingredients to your preference. Some commonly used include ginger, nutmeg, other herbs and spices, veggies like potatoes, carrots or other steamed vegetables, plantains, and different stocks.
- Serve it for Dinner. Easily make this jollof rice recipe a full meal by adding in cooked chicken, pork, fish and other seafood or your favorite combination of proteins. I love this dish with chopped chicken as sort of an African version of chicken fried rice.
- Crispy Rice. A special treat with jollof rice is the "crispy rice" on the bottom of the pot, very similar to “pegao” in Puerto Rican arroz con pollo or “socarrat” in Spanish paella. People love that stuff!
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy your new jollof rice recipe. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy! Extra spicy for me, please!
If you want to learn more about African cooking, check out the book below with lots of great recipes and information. It's an affiliate link. Definitely recommended, and I used it to adapt this recipe.
- Flavors of Africa: Discover Authentic Family Recipes from All Over the Continent, by Evi Aki (affiliate link, my friends!)
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
- Indonesian Fried Rice (Nasi Goreng)
- Arroz con Gandules
- Arroz con Pollo
- Mexican Rice
- Arroz Verde (Green Rice)
- Cajun Dirty Rice
- Curried Rice
- Cajun Red Beans and Rice
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Jollof Rice Recipe
- 4 Roma tomatoes chopped (canned tomatoes are good, too)
- 2 red bell peppers chopped (other peppers a great here)
- 1-2 Scotch bonnet peppers chopped (to your heat preference – other hot peppers can be used)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil coconut oil is great, too
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2-1/2 cups chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons curry powder or more to taste - optional, for extra flavor
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 cups white rice rinsed
- 2 bay leaves
- Blend the tomatoes, bell peppers and scotch bonnet peppers together in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pot to medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes to soften.
- Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir. Cook 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the tomato-pepper puree and stir. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes to let the flavors develop. The sauce will reduce and deepen in color.
- Add chicken stock, curry powder, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
- Add rice and bay leaves and mix well. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer on low until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked to your liking, about 20 minutes. You may need a bit longer. Add in water or chicken stock if needed for more moisture. It should be light and fluffy (unless you prefer wetter rice).
- Remove from heat and remove the lid. Let sit for 5 minutes and fluff the rice with a fork or wooden spoon, as desired.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 1/7/22 to include new information and video. It was originally published on 1/6/21.