Jollof Rice Recipe You'll Wind Up Adding To Your Dinner Rotation

If you didn't grow up in a household with West African heritage or friends who hail from the region, there's a chance you have never tried jollof rice. Once you try this dish, however, there is basically no chance you won't make it a regular part of your home's meal plans because it goes with just about everything.

"This rice is amazing," says chef and recipe developer Susan Olayinka of The Flexible Fridge. "It is the pinnacle of basically all West African cuisine — it's a great side and is celebrated in many homes at weddings, funerals, any excuse to have rice. I used to have it all the time when I was younger," she goes on. "My mum used to cook it, and as this is a generational type of food, my grandma used to cook it. My great-grandma used to cook it. I now cook it for my family. My husband and my son absolutely love it."

You may need to visit a specialty food store or two as you gather the ingredients for this delectable side dish, but those will be visits well worth your time, as will the couple of hours spent working on the jollof rice itself. It really is that good.

Gather your ingredients for jollof rice

For a batch of jollof rice, you'll need three chopped red bell peppers, two cans of plum tomatoes with their liquid, two scotch bonnet peppers, an onion, chicken stock cubes, Maggi cubes, tomato paste, vegetable oil, curry powder, thyme, bay leaves, uncooked rice (white or brown short grain), and broth.

Most of those ingredients are easy enough to find ... except for those Maggi cubes. "Maggi cubes are commonly used in African cuisine," says Olayinka."They are basically like a chicken stock cube, but they are full of different herbs and spices. They give a burst of flavor and make the aroma of the food smell amazing. They are available in the ethnic section in big supermarkets or in Afro-Caribbean supermarkets."

Blend peppers, tomatoes, and onion

Remove the tops and interior guts and seeds from the red bell peppers and roughly chop them, and chop the tops off the scotch bonnet peppers. (Don't touch your eyes any time soon after chopping these, by the way!) Now put the rough chopped red peppers, the canned tomatoes and their liquid, the scotch bonnets, half of the onion, the chicken stock cubes, and the Maggi cubes in a blender.

Blend everything on high for 30 seconds or for a bit longer if need be. You want a smooth purée without any large visible bits in the mixture.

Sauté the onion, then simmer the sauce

Chop the other half of the onion. Then, in a medium to large pan, sauté the chopped onion in the oil for three minutes on medium heat. Then add the tomato purée to the onion, and cook it for five minutes.

Next, add the blended tomato mixture and the spices to the pot, turn the heat down to low-medium, and let the pot cook at a simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered or partially covered to prevent any splatters that can make a mess of your stovetop. Plan to stir the pot two or three times while you simmer.

Rinse the rice, then add rice and broth to the sauce

After 30 minutes, the water from the tomatoes and the peppers will have largely cooked off, leaving a concentrated tomato sauce. As the half hour ends, wash the rice until the water runs clear, and make sure to let the excess water drip off. Now add the rice and the chicken broth to the pot of tomato and pepper sauce, and stir well.

Cover the pot with a lid, and let the dish cook on low for one hour, stirring at the 30-minute mark. After one hour, cut the heat and let the pot rest for 15 minutes, covered, then enjoy. "This keeps well for around five days in the fridge, and it actually also freezers as well," says Olayinka, adding: "It will be good for about a month in the freezer."

Jollof Rice Recipe You'll Wind Up Adding To Your Dinner Rotation
5 from 21 ratings
Once you try this jollof rice, you'll want to make it a regular part of your home's meal plans because it goes with just about everything.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
1.75
hours
Servings
5
servings
Jollof Rice served on a plate
Total time: 1.92 hours
Ingredients
  • 3 red peppers
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of plum tomatoes
  • 2 scotch bonnets
  • 1 onion
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 5 cups uncooked rice (white or brown short grain)
  • 1 cup broth
Optional Ingredients
  • 2 Maggi cubes
Directions
  1. Put the rough chopped red peppers, canned tomatoes, scotch bonnets, ½ an onion, chicken stock cubes, and Maggi cubes in a blender, and blend on high for 30 seconds.
  2. In a medium to large pan, sauté the other half of the chopped onion in the oil for three minutes on medium heat.
  3. Add the tomato paste to the onion and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Next add the blended tomato mixture to the pot, followed by the spices, turn the heat down to low-medium, and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, the water from the tomatoes and the peppers will have largely evaporated, leaving a concentrated tomato sauce. As the half hour ends, wash the rice until the water runs clear.
  6. Add the rice and the chicken broth to the pot.
  7. Cover the pot with a lid and cook on low for 1 hour, stirring at the 30-minute mark.
  8. After 1 hour, cut the heat and let the pot rest for 15 minutes.
  9. Serve and enjoy!
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