Jollof Rice: A West African Staple Food

Jollof Rice: A West African Staple Food

Jollof in Nigeria is a local parlance that means celebrate. It is no surprise then that a party is not complete without this serving. It is a popular dish in many parts of West Africa especially Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Senegal. There is a wide range of Jollof rice. However the basic ingredients remain the same.

These include rice, tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, salt and red pepper. Depending on the area of the region or the home or restaurant where you find yourself, optional ingredients like meat, vegetable or spice can be added. When you visit, this is one meal that you must never leave without trying.

How to Make Jollof Rice


  • Rice 2 Cups
  • Chicken (or any kind of meat or fish you prefer)
  • Crayfish (optional)
  • Tomato paste 5 Tablespoonful
  • Ground fresh tomatoes (or tomato paste)
  • 4 whole tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 scotch bonnet peppers
  • Ground fresh peppers
  • Sliced Onions
  • Vegetable or Groundnut oil (100ml)
  • ½ teaspoonfuls each of Thyme and Curry
  • 2 small Bay leaves (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as needed


Rice – Parboil Rice and keep out of eyeshot of ingredients. Parboiling, aka precooking¸ clears rice of the starch not needed so that your rice grains don’t bundle. Then you will rice and not Tuwo another West African delicacy.

Chicken – Boil and fry your chicken (or meat or fish or turkey or whatever else tickled your fancy). Remember to set aside at the broth at this stage.

Next – This is the beginning of the journey. Prepare a small sauce. Remember the tomatoes and pepper? Bring them together by blending. After that is done, put a pot on the stove to heat. Add some oil and sliced or chopped onions. Fry a bit and put in the blended tomatoes and pepper mix. Fry for about 10 minutes and add the tomato puree. While heating, check periodically to make sure that the sour tomato taste is gone and the oil has come above.

Make you use the concentrated tomato paste as this is what gives your jollof rice its deep reddish-orange color.

Next – Measure out about a quarter of the stew to be used later. Back to the stove, add your chicken to the pot and leave to boil on high heat for 5-10 minutes. Add the thyme, curry and salt to taste. This is the stage at which you add any other spice that you favor. Boil for 5 minutes.

Add the rice and mix carefully. Cover the pot and leave to cook on low to medium heat. Taste periodically to check that rice is soft enough to eat. Add the crayfish, if you decided to use, when the liquid in the rice is almost dry. Add also at this time the stew you set aside. Do not stir. Cover the pot let it simmer until there is no more liquid in the rice. Mix thoroughly. Have a great West African meal!