This is how my mama taught me to make Jollof Rice. It is guaranteed to give you a great-tasting and awesome-looking rice when you try it. Has Jollof Rice been a struggle? Don’t worry, I got you! And if it hasn’t been a struggle, I am here to show you how to make your Jollof game even better!
Jollof Rice is West Africa’s sweetheart. It is rice that is cooked in tomato sauce with spices and seasonings. Absolutely delicious! I’m yet to find a person who detests Jollof Rice. It’s safe to say here that it is the ultimate West African rice dish.
Eaten in Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone and many other countries, Jollof is popular across the African continent. So popular that a day (August 22 every year) has been reserved for #WorldJollofRiceDay. Who am I not to celebrate such days? HA.
Now as varied as the countries that eat Jollof Rice are so are the methods of preparation. Nigerian Jollof Rice is quite different from Cameroonian Jollof rice. Loyal Jollof Rice fans from different countries even now swear and fight on social media, saying their version is the best. This has led to the phraseology, “Jollof Wars”.
Jollof Rice has quickly become a phenomenon. It’s because of the epicness of rice cooked in tomato sauce. It is so good!
In my country Cameroon, there are equally varied methods of making Jollof Rice, the most common being making some tomato sauce then adding raw rice and stock to it and letting them cook together.
However, my mom handed down to me an exceptional Jollof Rice recipe. She doesn’t cook the rice together with the tomato sauce. She cooks them seperately and mixes to form Jollof Rice in the end. This might sound strange but trust me, it works so well. It is so easy too because you don’t have to worry about the rice sticking together or burning the rice,
The first time I tasted rice made this way was when she visited me with a huge cooler of Jollof Rice while I was in high school. It was on the day of my “confirmation” in the Presbyterian church. It is basically an occasion in which you “confirm” your decision to follow Christ in front of the congregation and your family. Then after there is eating and drinking to celebrate your decision. Because ‘item 11’ (eating and drinking) makes everything better. Ha!
So during item 11, this perfect Jollof rice was present. It was SO GOOD! When I went back home (from boarding school), Mama taught me how to make it just like her. Since then, I have not made Jollof Rice differently.
The rice is so tasty when cooked this way – the herbs and spices are not overcooked as is the case when the rice is cooked in all the ingredients. Also, it is fresh because the added vegetables are still vibrant in color and crispy. It is savory, garlicky, meaty, warm and so satisfying!
Some months ago, I took some of this Jollof Rice to my nephew-in-law’s birthday. A Caucasian lady there who tried it exclaimed (more like screamed for joy), “This is the best rice I ever had!” And she is right. Best Jollof Rice recipe ever!
My Ugandan friend’s kids can’t get enough of this. They even nicknamed it, “the nice rice”. When they come to visit me, they go, “Can you make the nice rice???” And when I make “the nice rice” they eat like there is no tomorrow.
So I urge you to go make “the nice rice” and you’ll be so glad you did!
P.S check out some other rice recipes here on the blog:
This is West Africa's sweetheart, Jollof Rice made the Cameroonian way. This Cameroon Jollof Rice Recipe was handed down to me by my mom. It is a hit every single time.
- 3 cups parboiled rice also known as "Uncle Ben's"
- 5 large tomatoes - blended into a puree
- 1 cup tomato sauce (8 oz or 227 g) I used a can this size
- 1 medium sized onion - chopped
- 6 large cloves garlic
- 1 inch ginger root - peeled and chopped
- 1 stem celery - chopped
- 1 stem parsley or cilantro - chopped
- 1 stem green onions - chopped
- 1 stem basil - chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
- 1 cup cooking oil I used corn oil
- 3 seasoning cubes-Maggi/Knorr (about 4g each) or three teaspoons chicken bouillon
- 1/2 pound beef cut into 1 inch slices
- 1 habanero pepper optional
- 2 medium carrots - chopped about 1 cup
- 1 handful green beans - chopped about 1 cup
- 1/2 large green pepper - chopped about 1/2 cup
- 1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
Combine the garlic, ginger, basil, celery, parsley, and habanero pepper (if using) in a blender. Add half a cup of water and blend into a puree.
Place meat in a small pot. Add 1-2 cups of water. Add in a quarter teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of chopped onions and 1 tablespoon of the blended spices. Let it cook for 10 minutes.
Then strain meat from the stock and set stock aside for use later.
Cut the meat into little bits (a quarter inch thick each) Sprinkle a pinch of salt on the chopped beef then add half a teaspoon of the blended spice puree. Mix well and let it rest for later use.
Place three cups of water into a pot. Add in 1 teaspoon of salt (plus curry powder if using) and bring to a boil. Wash rice and add to boiling water. Let it cook on medium heat until the water is all gone. Let the rice rest for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork.
In a large pot pour in a quarter of the oil. Let the oil heat up for about 3 minutes on high heat. Add in the seasoned meat from step 2. Let the meat brown for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove meat from the oil and set aside.
Add in the rest of the oil and let it heat up for 3 minutes. Add the onions. Let them saute for 2 minutes until translucent.
Then add in pureed tomatoes and let it cook while you stir from time to time until it starts sticking to the bottom of the pot - about 10 minutes.
Add in tomato sauce and mix well. Let it cook together with the tomato puree while you stir from time to time for about 10 minutes. They are ready when the tomato sauce separates from the oil and no longer tastes sour.
Add in your blended spice mix and white pepper (if using). Mix well and let it cook for about 3 minutes.
Add in the beef stock and seasoning cubes (Maggi) and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add in green onions and stir. Let it cook for a minute.
Then add the chopped vegetables - carrots, green beans and green pepper. Mix well.
Add in boiled rice and beef. Mix everything on low heat until well incorporated. Be careful not to break or mash the rice. Turn off the heat. Your amazing Jollof rice is ready!
1. You could add sweet corn and peas to the jollof rice if you so wish.
2. Add a teaspoon of curry powder while boiling the rice if you like the taste of curry and/or you like it slightly yellowish.
3. To heat up leftover Jollof rice, you could either place it in a pot and heat on medium heat or alternately place it in an oven safe bowl and heat it up in the oven. I like the oven method better.
4. To make this recipe vegan, use mushrooms instead of beef.