Fish with jollof rice, chicken and vegetables. Image: Pexels / Keesha’s Kitchen
Jollof rice is a famous dish in many West African countries, which is now gaining momentum across the continent. This classic rice dish is the pride of Nigerian, Ghanaian, Cameroonian, Liberian, Senegalese and other West African countries where it is considered a culinary treasure.
Jollof rice, also known as jellof rice, is a colourful rice dish made using aromatic spices such as paprika, thyme and curry powder to give it a delectable taste. There is an ongoing debate as to which nation makes the best jollof rice among West Africans. However, there seems to be no right or wrong way of making this iconic African rice dish, given its versatility across the diaspora.
Rice: The starchy base for our dish, this filling ingredient is generally fragrant and soaks a lot of water. I prefer basmati, but you can use any long-grain rice.
Onions: This veggie is excellent served fresh with its tangy flavour. However, I personally love it slightly caramelised for a bit of sweetness. Get the perfect cut for this ingredient with this easy-to-follow guide.
Thyme: A deliciously aromatic herb from the incredible mint family is a delicious addition to just about any savoury recipe. Fresh is good, but dried will work, and I have a list of the perfect substitutes if you don’t have thyme at all.
Garlic: Ah, the wonderful garlic flavour makes this jollof rice recipe even better. And here’s my trick for mincing it.
Paprika: This ingredient adds the fabulous pepper flavour without the heat.
Tomato puree or sauce: The sweet, slightly acidic, and fresh flavours of tomato in a thick mixture is perfect for many starchy dishes.
Chicken broth (or water): Basically, the flavourful water that chicken was simmered in. Not only is it full of flavour, but it’s also filled with healthy fats and collagen.
Scotch bonnet or hot pepper: My favourite hot pepper is a tear-jerker, but sometimes a good cry is good for you. Most of the time, I put it whole instead of chopping it to get the flavour from its skin and not the seed’s heat.
Vegetables: Carrots, peas, green beans and corn are all excellent choices to create a mix of colourful veggies to make it even more vibrant.
Traditionally, jollof rice is cooked on the stovetop. However, that involves a lot of stirring, and sometimes the rice sticks to the pot, making the dish quite unappetising.
In this blog post, I completely eliminated that problem by making it in the oven with just five minutes of prep time and no constant stirring involved. But if you want to stick to the traditional method, I’ve also included the stove-top method.
Here are the easy steps to make jollof rice:
Rinse the rice – Make sure you clean it thoroughly with just water. Do not parboil!
Put it all in! Add all the ingredients to the baking dish or pan.
Cover it with aluminium foil and pop it in the oven.
Now, if you are not vegan and want to throw in some meat or protein, by all means, do so. Simply stir-fry shrimp, beef or chicken, and a medley of vegetables then mix with the rice and serve.