foods and cuisines

Jollof Rice | The Pride of West Africa

The heart of the Nigerian Jollof rice dish includes rice, tomatoes, and peppers. Many people then add delicious mixtures of other add-ins such as prawns, peas, or onions. You’ll often see jollof rice served with juicy proteins such as minced meat or chicken. It might even come with a stew or plantains. Make sure to try it with a Nigerian pepper sauce for some heat.

Jollof rice is one of the most popular dishes in West Africa.  Like other popular dishes in the region, there is a lot of variation in how the dish is served in different countries or regions within West Africa.  It is worth noting the importance that rice has played a significant role in the West African diet for much of history.  African rice, which is different from rice native to Asia, has been cultivated for thousands of years in West Africa, and many believe that it is the key to food security in the region.  Generally speaking, jollof rice consists of rice tomatoes or tomato paste, palm oil, onions, salt, spices (usually cumin, nutmeg, and ginger), and chili peppers. Depending on where you are, the rice can be served with meat (usually chicken), fish, and additional vegetables.  The origins of the dish can be traced back to the Senegambia region of Africa during the time of the Jolof Empire, hence the name jollof rice.  It is believed that the dish was likely spread by tradesmen through the Mali Empire along with rice-based agriculture and Islam.

Follow this recipe to learn to make one of the most popular West African dishes, Jollof Rice, with this easy-to-follow recipe.

Jollof Rice Ingredients

  • 2 medium tomatoes roughly chopped (about 5 ounces each)
  • 1/2 medium Scotch bonnet pepper or use a habanero pepper, stem removed
  • 1/2 medium onion roughly chopped
  • 3 small red bell peppers roughly chopped (about 5 ounces each)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot ground chili pepper such as African dried chili or cayenne
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 1/2 cups medium-grain rice
  • Water


  • Rinse the rice thoroughly and set it aside.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent.
  • Stir in the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, and scotch bonnet pepper. Cook until the vegetables soften.
  • Mix in the tomato paste, thyme, curry powder, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine all the flavors.
  • Add the rinsed rice to the pot and coat it with the vegetable mixture.
  • Pour in the vegetable or chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the rice simmer for about 20–25 minutes or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid. Avoid stirring the rice during this time to prevent it from becoming mushy.
  • Once cooked, fluff the rice with a fork and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
  • Serve the Jollof rice hot and savor the explosion of flavors!