Rice dishes are very common in most West-African cultures and the Nigerian jollof rice is one of many great variations. Jollof rice itself is popular in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. Like I said in my food in theory article Nigerian Jollof 101 – Extras & Essentials, the debate on which country makes the best Jollof is one that could go on forever. As a Nigerian, I can say that aside from the taste and flavour, a beautiful thing about the Nigerian Jollof rice dish is how it varies. From the classic Jollof to party style Jollof and a recent favourite that is basmati Jollof and more.
This recipe is the more common and classic recipe, used by most home cooks. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it the most traditional, however, it upholds the desired standard of the classic dish. Which is:
- vibrant in colour,
- use of fresh ingredients,
- rich in flavour,
- spicy and aromatic,
- Classic long grain rice (which arguably holds on to flavour better)
Complex not complicated
A dish that requires simple steps, but is seemingly complicated. To some people, it comes naturally whilst for some others it’s a journey to master just the basics. However, I say it’s a journey that is worth it all! A delicious dish that encompasses: Blitz, fry, simmer, and steam, no more, no less. This recipe will guide even the novice of novices to embark on this delicious journey. One of the many Jollof rice variations that I promise you will enjoy. If you want a little cheat sheet, you can check out how I make Nigerian Jollof rice using pasta sauce.
How to make Classic Nigerian Jollof Rice:
What you’ll need:
- Red bell pepper
- Red onion
- Fresh ginger
- Scotch bonnet pepper
- Sunflower oil
- Paprika powder
- Dried thyme
- Bay leaf
- Vegetable stock
The Cooking Process:
- Chop tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper and puree in a blender/food processor.
- Cook the pureed mixture in a pot with hot cooking oil over medium-high heat. Stir together and place a lid over it, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Stir in the spices and seasonings (Paprika, thyme, nutmeg, bay leaf, and salt), then add the rice and vegetable or meat stock and stir together.
- Place a piece of aluminium foil into the pot, covering the entire surface of the rice, then place a lid over the pot. Cook for 20 minutes on low heat (stirring occasionally).
- Remove the lid, bin the aluminium foil and give the rice a gentle stir, then return the lid and cook for another 5 minutes.
Classic Nigerian Jollof Rice
- 4 plum tomatoes
- ½ bell pepper
- 1 red onion
- 1 thumb-size fresh ginger
- 2 garlic gloves
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- ¼ cup sunflower oil
- 1 cup long-grain rice (Washed)
- 1 tsp paprika powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- Chop the tomatoes, onions, and bell pepper into chunks. Place into a blender/food processor together with the ginger, garlic, and scotch bonnet pepper. Then blitz into a smooth paste.
- Place a pot over medium heat, pour in the sunflower oil, and add the blended mixture. Stir and allow to sizzle, then place a lid over it, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- After simmering for 20 minutes, remove the lid, then add the spices and seasonings (Paprika, thyme, nutmeg, bay leaf, and salt). Stir altogether.
- Also pour in the rice and vegetable or meat stock and stir together.
- Place a piece of aluminium foil into the pot, covering the entire surface of the rice (this will keep the steam in), then place a lid over the pot. Cook for 20 minutes on low heat (Stirring occasionally to cook the rice evenly and also to prevent it from burning at the bottom).
- Remove lid, bin the aluminium foil and give the rice a gentle stir, then return the lid and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Now the rice should be ready to serve. Serve hot with your favourite sides and enjoy!
Some of the ingredients used in this recipe are a list in my 10 Essential Ingredients in a Nigerian Kitchen, where you can learn more about Nigerian food.