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Lip-Smackingly Good Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

Jollof is popular across West Africa, though each country has its own distinctive version.

Jollof is popular across West Africa, though each country has its own distinctive version.

Jollof Rice: Nigeria's National Dish

Known as Nigeria's national dish, jollof is a fragrant and spicy tomato-based rice dish that never fails to surprise the palate and rev up the appetite. Ask any Nigerian you meet, and they will tell you that they absolutely love this dish and know how to cook it, of course. The dish is eaten in all households throughout the country, and it is a must-have at any and all important events and get-togethers, including weddings, graduation parties, naming ceremonies, etc.

Jollof is popular across West Africa, although each country has its own distinctive version. Many would say that the Nigerian version is the best, but of course, not everyone would agree. Either way, be warned that the Nigerian recipe is extremely delicious and can be highly addictive!

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

50 min

1 hour

4 servings


  • 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon Jamaican curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crayfish
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 Maggi beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 medium plum tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 habanero, stemmed
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato puree
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme


  1. In a blender, add ginger, Jamaican curry powder, dried crayfish, garlic cloves, beef bouillon cubes, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, habanero, and tomato purée. Blend until you get a smooth purée without any lumps.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the thinly sliced onion to the saucepan and sautée.
  4. Pour the purée from the blender into the saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Add the bay leaf and dry thyme. Allow the purée to simmer slowly in the pan and cook until most of the liquid is reduced (about 20 minutes).
  5. Once the purée has thickened, add the rice and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, allowing the rice to absorb the purée.
  6. Add 4 cups of water, raise the heat, and bring to a boil. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat and let it simmer. Cover the pan and allow the rice to cook thoroughly until all of the water has been absorbed and the rice is fully cooked (about 20 to 25 minutes).
  7. Turn off the stove and remove the pan from the heat. Open the lid and fluff the rice with a spoon or fork.
  8. Serve while it's steaming hot. Enjoy!

Serving Suggestions

If you are looking to take this amazing dish up a notch, you can pair it with a protein like fried chicken or fish. I hope you enjoy this recipe and love the taste of this fantastic dish—so simple and yet satisfying.

Interesting Facts About Jollof

  • Nigerians and Ghanaians each claim that this dish originated in their country. However, historians have traced the true origin of this dish to the Wolof Empire in the Senegambian region.
  • The name jollof was derived from the Djolof/Jolof tribe in the Senegambian region. Legend has it that the recipe was created by chance during a period of barley shortage by a woman who lived near the Senegal River delta. The woman combined rice with fish, vegetables, and tomatoes to create a meal known as jollof, meaning a one-pot meal.
  • In addition to Nigeria and Ghana, many other West African nations consider jollof to be an important staple food within their own countries, as well. Some of these countries include Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameroon, Mali, and Togo.
  • Originally, this was almost exclusively a fish-based recipe. Today, there are other versions, too; one popular version features chicken.
  • This dish is typically served as part of the evening meal, not breakfast or lunch.
  • African jollof may have been the inspiration for the New Orleans jambalaya of the American South.
  • Jollof has a dance associated with it. (How many foods do you know that have a dance that goes with them? I'm going to guess not very many!)