Jollof rice is a must-try food. If you are a food lover looking for a delicious meal to try, then you should try jollof rice! What is the big deal about this Jollof rice? Here’s what you should know. Jollof rice is the most popular food in West Africa. Believe me, people are crazy about this dish. The love Africans have for Jollof rice is so strong that the 22nd of every August is set aside as the World Jollof Rice day to celebrate the delicious cuisine.
The smoky, deep red, flavorful, stewed Jollof rice is a dominant dish among all homemade Nigerian dishes. It is a dish of celebration, the top pick of all dishes served at parties and ceremonies like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and funerals. If there is no Jollof rice, then it is not a party! Every typical Nigerian will agree with this.
Jollof rice is not peculiar to Nigerians alone, other West African countries like Ghana, Senegal, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Cameroon have their variations of Jollof rice. However, the dish is said to have originated from Senegal where it is referred to as Benachin.
Due to the variation in Jollof rice recipes, there has been a fierce debate between West African countries, especially between Nigerians and Ghanaians over who makes the best Jollof rice. This debate has turned into a major contest on social media with a popular hashtag, #JollofWars. Over the years, this debate has had Jollof rice lovers, including local and international celebrities, and interestingly, politicians, battling over which is best – Nigerian Jollof or Ghanaian Jollof. This Jollof war has grown beyond social media into a major contest in different cities around the world such as Washington DC and London. The competition brings Nigerians, Ghanaians, Senegalese and others to battle in a Jollof rice cooking contest. The love Africans have for Jollof rice cannot be overemphasized. Now let’s get down to business.
How to prepare Nigerian Jollof rice
There are so many variations of the Jollof rice recipe. Nigerians use the long grain rice, while the Ghanaians use jasmine or basmati rice. However, the main ingredients are rice, tomatoes, peppers, onions, oil, spices and seasonings. The type of spices used and the way the main ingredients are combined depends on the region. My preferred recipe is the Nigerian recipe, inspired by the way my mom makes it. Here below are the ingredients.
Nigerian Jollof Rice Ingredients
2 cups long-grain rice
3 cups chicken stock
3 medium-sized fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 large red bell peppers, chopped
2 medium-sized red onions,
2 scotch bonnet chili pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of curry powder
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon multi-purpose seasoning
1 teaspoons salt
2 stock cubes
3 bay leaves
Nigerian Jollof rice is made by mixing parboiled rice, meat stock, and already made stew to cook together. The process of cooking begins with preparing your parboiled rice, stew and meat stock.
Prepare parboiled rice
- Rinse the long-grained rice to get rid of starch and dirt.
- Parboil the rice with ample water for about 5 minutes.
- Make sure the rice does not get fully cooked. When the rice is parboiled, drain the water out to get rid of more starch
The stew is a combination of blended tomatoes, canned tomato paste, onions, peppers and spices cooked together.
- Blend your tomatoes, bell peppers, chili peppers, onions, ginger and garlic in a blender or food processor. Make sure they are blended well to a smooth texture.
- Mix the tomatoes paste with water in a bowl.
- Heat oil in a pot. Once the oil is hot, add sliced onions. When the onion is almost brown, add the tomato paste and stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Then add your blended mixture, and stir-cook for one minute. After one minute add your curry, thyme, stock cubes, salt, and bay leaves. When it begins to pop and make splashes, then you know it almost ready. Allow it to cook for about 3 minutes until the raw taste of the mixture is gone
Prepare Meat stock
Meat stock is simply the liquid leftover from simmering meat like chicken or beef. For this recipe, my preference is chicken stock.
- Put your chicken in a pot, add salt, stock cubes, onions, curry, thyme, blended ginger, garlic, and stir. Add a little amount of water as the chicken will release water of its own.
- Add a little more water when the chicken is half cooked to have a greater amount of chicken stock.
- When the chicken is ready, strain the excess liquid (stock) into a large bowl.
Mix parboiled rice, stew and meat stock
- Now that your parboiled rice, stew and meat stock have been prepared, pour your parboiled rice into the sizable pot, add your stew and your meat stock.
- Add sliced onions and mix them in.
- Cover the pot and allow it to cook on medium heat until the rice is soft and the stew dries up completely. When it dries up, mix thoroughly and your Jollof rice is ready.
Note: If you want it to taste like the party Jollof (the jollof rice served at parties), then you have to take an extra step by allowing the rice to get burnt underneath. Once you hear a snapping sound and the rice begins to smell smoky, wait a few minutes and switch off the burner. Now, your Party Jollof is ready to be served!