How To Cook Jollof Rice, Secret Ingredients and Recipes

Nigerians enjoy many foods but one of the most sought after in the country is Jollof rice which can be cooked with different recipes. It is a mouth-watering dish that is prepared with rice, tomatoes, oil, and pepper. Jollof rice is a very popular dish at parties such that no party is complete without it on the menu. Jollof rice has also been modified to become tantalizing following the various ingredients that are now added to it. No matter how the food comes, once the ingredients are put in the right proportion, it surely serves the best.

The Origins of Jollof Rice

The origin of the delicious jollof rice can be traced to the Senegambian region which was governed by the Jolof Empire (Wolof or Wollof Empire) back in the 14th-16th century. That region is present-day Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritiana where rice grows in abundance, hence its grain coast name. Jollof rice was the traditional dish of the area particularly known today as Senegal and it was called Thieboudienne. The dish is made up of rice, shellfish, and vegetables and is believed to be invented by Penda Mbaye, a cook that lived at the Senegalese river Delta and Portuguese trading point.

Also known as Benachin, jollof rice is widely eaten in West and Central Africa. Nigeria is one of the countries that took it as a major food. It is inevitable to attend any event in Nigeria, from weddings to birthdays, coronations, graduation, burials, and not have a taste or see jollof rice being served. Any event where the dish is not served seems incomplete.

Nigerian Party Jollof Rice Is The Most Loved 

In Nigeria, there are different types of jollof rice that are made and eaten even though they all have the same name. This is due to the ingredients used and the methods of cooking. The Nigerian jollof rice is the most loved by all Nigerians because of the method and ingredients that are used in preparing it. This makes it hard for one to attend a party and go without a taste of the party jollof rice.

Cooking this party Jollof is hard for so many people because of the following reasons:

  • They might not get the methods right.
  • The cost of preparing the party Jollof rice is high.
  • The right ingredients may be too much to get right.

Below are two recipes and methods of making the Nigerian jollof rice.

First Recipe

To get the jollof rice right, the following ingredients are to be gotten ready:

  • 6 Cups Of Rice
  • 3/4 Cups of Olive Oil/ Groundnut Oil
  • Fresh tomato bulbs
  • 5 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • Meat (Chicken, Beef, Mutton, Fish)
  • Vegetables (Carrot, Cabbage, Green peas)
  • 1 Tablespoonful of Seasoning Powder
  • Chilli pepper to taste
  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 red bell pepper
  • Salt
  • Tablespoonful Curry Powder
  • Bouillon cubes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoonful Dried Thyme
  • 4 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tablespoonful of Grated Ginger

Steps To Take In Making Jollof With The Above Ingredients

  1. Parboil the rice, wash it, and keep it in a sieve to drip off the water.
  2. Steam the meat/fish/chicken/mutton.
  3. Chop or grind the tomato bulbs.
  4. Dice the onions and bell pepper.
  5. Cut the vegetables.
  6. Grind the garlic cloves.

Methods Of Cooking

  1. Start developing the food flavor by frying the onion in a small quantity of oil, for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the fresh tomato to the oil and fry for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and fry for more 5-10 minutes or more.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic to the stew, stir, and fry for about two minutes. The stew is almost ready and should be checked to prevent burning.
  5. Though there is no stipulated time for adding the blended pepper, it can be added to the stew and allowed to dry off with the stew. Now the amount of water in the stew must have dried off, and it no longer gives the fresh smell. The oil will float at the top and the stew will have become thick.
  6. Add thyme, curry powder, pepper, salt, seasoning cubes, bay leaves, and any other spices to taste.
  7. Add your rice and stir, making sure that each grain is properly covered with the stew.
  8. Add the meat stock and stir and cover with a tight-fitting lid or cover with a foil before putting on the lid to ensure proper circulation of heat.
  9. Immediately the rice has boiled for a few minutes, reduce the heat to avoid getting burnt and cook till it’s soft.
  10. You can now serve the rice with any protein and liquid of your choice.

Second Recipe

The following ingredients can be used to make the Nigerian party jollof rice:

  • 6 cups of long-grain rice.
  • 6-8 Red ball pepper (tatashe).
  • 3 Medium-size plum tomatoes/ 1 can of plum tomatoes.
  • 5-6 tablespoonfuls of tomato paste.
  • Chicken, Beef, Mutton, Fish.
  • 2 Scotch Bonnet (Ata Rodo).
  • 3 Onions
  • Cooking oil
  • 3 Tablespoonful of butter.
  • 1 and a half tablespoonful of ginger.
  • 1 tablespoonful of thyme and curry.
  • 1 tablespoonful of seasoning.
  • 3 bouillon cubes.
  • 2 medium-size tomatoes.
  • Salt
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 3 teaspoonfuls of white pepper.

Steps To Take In Making Jollof With The Above Ingredients

  1. Parboil the rice, wash it, and keep it in a sieve to drip off the water.
  2. Steam the meat, fish, chicken, mutton to taste.
  3. Grind 2 tomato bulbs, scotch bonnet, one onion, bell pepper and keep.
  4. Cut the remaining onion and tomato bulbs and keep.

Method Of Cooking

  1. Pour the cooking oil into a pot, add half of the sliced onion into it, and allow to fry on low heat to build up the aroma.
  2. Add the grounded pepper, bay leaves, curry powder, tomato paste, bouillon cube, one teaspoonful of white pepper, seasoning, and fry for 15-20 minutes till the oil floats.
  3. Add the meat, fish, chicken, mutton, and fry for 8-10 minutes.
  4. In another pot, add the rice and mix with the stew, ensuring that the water is a centimeter above the rice.
  5. Then add your butter or margarine, salt, and remaining white pepper to taste.
  6. Stir the rice occasionally with a wooden spoon to ensure that heat circulates well.
  7. Once the rice is getting soft, add the remaining onion and tomato bulb into it and wait for a few minutes for the water to dry and bring down.

Ghana Jollof Rice vs Nigerian Jollof Rice

Jollof Rice

Ghana and Nigeria have become huge competitors over whose jollof rice tastes better. Though they are made with different species of rice and ingredients, they both taste great and this has made people unable to determine the best. Even the owner of Facebook was put in a place to determine which tastes better. Most times, the two dishes are being sampled on social media with tags of which tastes better. This gets the comment box buzzing with which is most preferred.

In cooking Ghana jollof rice, basmati rice is used and this rice is not parboiled to avoid making it soggy. The basmati rice is long slim rice that has a higher starch constituent and a tasty aroma. In preparing this, they add shito (an oily spice made up of shrimp, onion, ginger, and hot pepper) to spice it up and it does not have a party version. In preparing Nigerian jollof rice, long-grain parboiled rice is used. This rice has to be parboiled and washed to make it sticky-free and has the party version which is the most preferred by most citizens. Nigerians have put up their opinion which disqualifies the Ghana jollof rice saying that its grains are starchy while Ghana on their part says that Nigerian grains are fat and tasteless. This has lingered even on social media with memes, gifs, videos, and many more vetting for which is best. Despite all these, the Jollof rice has remained a tasty spiced dish made up of tomatoes, rice, and other ingredients eaten widely by people.

Ingredients Used in Preparing Ghana Jollof Rice

The Ghana jollof rice is prepared with the following ingredients and methods:


  • 4 cups of basmati rice.
  • 2 large yellow onions.
  • 7 big fresh tomatoes and 4 tablespoonfuls of tomato paste/ tomato puree.
  • Vegetable, groundnut, or olive oil.
  • Chicken, fish, mutton, beef, or any protein of your choice.
  • 2 big cloves of garlic and 1 big ginger.
  • Seasoning like curry, thyme, bay leaves, nutmeg ( pick any of your choices).
  • 5 red pepper or chili pepper.
  • 2 Boullion cubes.
  • Vegetables like carrots, green peas, etc.
  • Salt to taste.

Method of Cooking

Prepare the Protein

  • Wash your desired protein into a pot
  • Add salt to taste
  • Cut half onion and add
  • Grind 1 clove of garlic, ginger, and pepper, and add
  • Add 2 bouillon cubes and any seasoning of your choice to taste
  • Add water and steam for about 10-15 minutes
  • Fry the protein till it’s ok

Prepare the Stew

  1. Blend tomatoes, with half of the onions and the remaining ginger, garlic, and pepper.
  2. Dice the other onion and keep.
  3. Add some of the oil used in frying the protein in a dry pot, pour the onion and fry for about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste/ puree to the fried onion, stirring for about 7-8 minutes to remove the sour taste and dry up the water.
  5. Pour in the mixed blended tomatoes and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally to dry up the water.

Mixing the Jollof Rice

  1. Wash the rice in hot water and pour in a sieve to drip off the water.
  2. Remove some of the stew to avoid burning or if you want to serve with some stew.
  3. Pour the protein stock into the stew. You can add a little water if it is not much. Add spices to taste and crayfish depending on your choice. Stir and taste to know what more to add.
  4. Add the rice and stir till everything mixes well. Then cover with a foil and pot lid.
  5. Allow cooking on reduced heat till the water is dried up.
  6. If you don’t want to serve the stew with the rice, pour it into the pot before all the moisture is dried up.
  7. Add the vegetable to the rice, stir and put down from the fire.
  8. It can be served with drinks, plantain, coleslaw, salad, and anything of your choice.

Other Unique Ways Some African Countries Prepare The Jollof Rice

It was mentioned that jollof rice originated from West Africa but is widely eaten across the continent. There are methods, ingredients that those countries use in preparing their jollof rice that makes it unique in their way.


Mostly called thieboudienne in Senegal, the Senegalese Jollof rice is mainly prepared with broken jasmine rice and fish.

Ingredients Used In Preparing Thieboudienne

  • One cup and half of the parsley.
  • 2 habanero pepper/ scotch bonnet.
  • 6 tomato bulbs.
  • 4 tablespoonfuls of tomato paste.
  • 2 large onions.
  • Vegetables ( green peas, carrot, cabbage, etc).
  • 3 cloves of garlic.
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoonful of nététou
  • 2 tablespoonfuls of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoonfuls of shrimp bouillon cubes.
  • 4 Okro
  • Cooking oil.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Any fish of your choice.
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Before you start preparing the thieboudienne, soak 3 cups of rice while getting other ingredients ready.

Methods of Cooking

Prepare The Fish Marinade
  1. Blend or crush the parsley, half the garlic, 1 bouillon cube, salt, and pepper to taste, and a spoon of oil.
  2. Make holes or slit the fish and stuff it with the already prepared marinade and put it in the fridge for some hours.
Prepare The Tomato Sauce
  1. Heat the oil and add the onion, tomatoes, tomato paste, the remaining garlic, and black pepper, and fry for about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Put the marinated fish in the frying tomato sauce.
  3. Add the bay leaves, habaneros, 1 cup of water, nététou, simmer until the fish is thoroughly cooked for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Remove the fish and add any vegetable that you are using except the okra and add a cup of water cooking for about 25-30 minutes.
  5. Remove the vegetable from the sauce to avoid overcooking them and add the okra, cooking for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the okra and pour the rice into the sauce, cook on low heat, and stir always to ensure that the heat is distributed evenly.
  7. Once the rice softens, you can serve with the fish, vegetables, and okra.


Popularly known as Nsame or Zaame in Liberia, the Liberian jollof rice is mainly prepared with any type of rice.

Ingredients Used In Preparing Nsame or Zaame

  • 5 cups of rice
  • Any protein of your choice
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 and a half onion
  • 2 pieces of ginger
  • 2 bouillon cubes
  • 2 scotch bonnet pepper
  • Chilli pepper
  • 5 tablespoonfuls of vegetable oil
  • 4 big onions
  • 1 tomato puree
  • 9 oz tomato paste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoonful of curry powder
  • Vegetables (green peas, carrot)

Methods of Cooking

  1. Boil, wash and keep the rice in a sieve to drip off the water.
  2. Slice two onions and keep.
  3. Grind or blend the garlic, ginger, 1 onion, bouillon cube, and pepper with 3 cups of water.
  4. Put the protein of your choice into the pot and pour the blended mixture, cover and cook for about 15-30 minutes depending on the protein you are using.
  5. In a dry pan, pour the vegetable oil, and fry the sliced onion for about 8-10 minutes till it changes color to brown.
  6. Pour in the tomato paste and fry for extra 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove some of the protein from the pot and put it into the blender or grinder, draining out the water.
  8. Put the tomato puree into the blender, the remaining onion, 2 scotch bonnet pepper, and blend to obtain a fine paste.
  9. Pour the blended mixture and vegetable into the pan with the tomato sauce and stir for about 15-20 minutes.
  10. Add the curry powder, bay leaves, and salt to taste.
  11. Add the rice and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally.
  12. Cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes.
  13. Fry the remaining protein and serve the rice with it when it’s properly cooked.

Sierra Leone

Jasmine and basmati rice are mainly eaten in Sierra Leone and are used in preparing jollof rice. It is and mostly prepared and eaten by the Mende, Krios, and Temme people in the country.

Ingredients Used In Preparing The Jollof Rice

  • Any protein of your choice.
  • 5 cups of jasmine or basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoonfuls of ginger and garlic paste
  • Cayenne powder
  • Curry powder
  • Olive oil
  • Thyme
  • 2 large onions ( it is better to cut in a cube form)
  • 2 large red bell pepper
  • 2 large green pepper
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper
  • 3 large fresh tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoonfuls of tomato paste
  • 1 medium-sized Cabbage
  • 1 bunch of diced scallion
  • 2 bouillon cubes
  • 3 cups of water

Utensils To Use

  • Oven
  • Dutch oven or a pot with cover
  • Blender or grinder
  • Baking tray

Methods of Cooking

To get the cooking right, there are several sites to take accordingly. The steps are listed below:

Prepare The Protein To Be Used
  1. Marinate the protein with ginger and garlic paste, cayenne, thyme, curry, salt to taste and keep for about an hour for the ingredients to soak well into the protein.
  2. Add olive oil to a dry pot and fry the protein until a golden brown color is obtained and keep.
Prepare The Rice
  1. Soak the rice.
  2. Preheat the oven to about 350°F.
  3. Arrange the red pepper, cubed onion, garlic, cubed tomatoes, and habanero pepper on a baking tray.
  4. Pour oil on it and add salt to taste by sprinkling.
  5. Put it in the oven and bake for about 375°F for about 30 minutes or more till they turn light brown.
  6. Blend or grind the baked mixture.
  7. In the same pan that the protein was marinated, add oil.
  8. Drain off the rice, add it to the hot pot, and mix properly.
  9. Put the tomato sauce and stir until it mixes well.
  10. Put the water and bouillon cubes.
  11. Cover the pot and cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from getting stuck to the base.
  12. Add the already prepared protein and cook for 5 minutes.
  13. Put down the pot and leave it covered with the steam for about 10 minutes before dishing out.

The Gambia

The jollof rice is mainly known as Benachin in the Gambia and is prepared with long grain rice. It is known as cheebu yap when prepared with meat and cheebu jen when prepared with fish.

Ingredients Used In Preparing The Benachin

There are two ingredients and methods of cooking the rice depending on the protein used.

For the Fish Jollof Rice
  • 1 fresh fish
  • 5 cups of long-grain rice.
  • 3 cups of vegetable oil
  • 7 cups of water
  • 3 medium fresh tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoonfuls of tomato paste
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 medium-sized cabbage
  • 3 medium-sized carrots
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Method of Cooking
  1. Parboil the rice and keep.
  2. Wash and cut the fish into halves.
  3. Fry with vegetable oil to obtain a brown color.
  4. Bring out the fish and add fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, and onions, fry till brown color is obtained.
  5. Add water and allow to boil.
  6. Add the vegetables ( cabbage, carrot, bay leaves, seasoning), reduce the heat, and allow to cook for about 20-30 minutes.
  7. Bring out the vegetables and add rice, stirring steadily.
  8. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes.

For the Meat Jollof Rice

  • 5 cups of long-grain rice.
  • Beef or Chicken
  • 3 cups of vegetable oil
  • 7 cups of water
  • 3 medium fresh tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoonfuls of tomato paste
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 medium-sized cabbage
  • 3 medium-sized carrots
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large bitter tomato (jahatu/jaxatu)
  • 1 large eggplant or mock tomato
  • Vinegar
  • 1 small-sized pumpkin
  • Black pepper
  • 3 Pepper
  • Salt to taste
Method of Cooking
  1. Parboil the rice and keep.
  2. Wash and mix the meat with salt, black pepper, vinegar, and blended garlic and cook for about 30 minutes.
  3.  Slice the vegetable and onions into the desired sizes.
  4. Wash and peel off the skin from the tomatoes.
  5. Fry the meat in hot oil until it is golden brown.
  6. Fry the onions till they turned brown, add the tomatoes, and fry to obtain a pulpy look.
  7. Put the tomatoes paste and blended pepper and fry for 15 minutes.
  8. Add half a cup of water with bullion cubes and allow to boil.
  9. Place the prepared meat and vegetable in the pot and cook for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove the vegetable and meat from the pot and place in an oven for 20 minutes on low heat.
  11. Add the rice and pepper and allow to cook for 25 minutes.
  12. Serve with meat and vegetables.


The Cameroonian jollof rice is prepared with long grain rice and shouldn’t be deep red.

Ingredients Used In Preparing The Cameroonian Jollof Rice

  • 5 cups of long-grain parboiled rice
  • 5 large fresh tomatoes
  • 1 oz canned tomatoes
  • Seasoning of your choice
  • 2 red bell pepper
  • 4 medium-sized carrots
  • 2 cups of green peas
  • Half tablespoonful curry
  • Half tablespoonful white pepper
  • Half tablespoonful anise
  • Cooking oil
  • Meat or fish
  • Bouillion cubes
  • Salt

Method of Cooking

  1. Wash meat or fish into a pot and add salt, bouillon cube, water, and steam till it is well cooked.
  2. Remove the meat or fish and set aside.
  3. Place a dry pot, add cooking oil, and fry the meat or fish till it turns brown, remove from the pot.
  4. Put the tomato paste, fresh tomato puree, red bell pepper, and fry stirring occasionally.
  5. Wash the parboiled rice till it becomes transparent and add to the pot.
  6. Add the curry powder, white pepper, anise, seasoning, bouillon cubes, and salt to taste.
  7. Cover the pot with foil and lid and cook on medium heat.
  8. Add water at intervals till it is almost cooked.
  9. Add the green peas, carrots, and meat into the cooking pot and cook on low heat till the vegetables soften.
  10. Turn the rice to distribute the vegetables evenly and serve.


The jollof rice popularly known as the Laso Ya Bulayin is mainly cooked with basmati rice.

Ingredients Used In Preparing The Laso Ya Bulayin

  • 5 cups of rice
  • 3 yellow onions
  • Meat or fish
  • 2 cups f vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoonfuls of salted butter
  • 2 tablespoonfuls of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoonfuls of scotch bonnet and chili paste
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetables ( green pea, carrot, cabbage, all chopped)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped cilantro, lettuce, hard-boiled eggs.
  • Black pepper, cayenne pepper, or red pepper.
  • 1 clove of Garlic, thyme, 2 bay leaves, 1 ginger, cinnamon, curry powder

Method of Cooking

  1. Wash the rice until the water becomes clear to get rid of the starchy content.
  2. Put 2 tablespoonfuls of vegetable oil in a large pan, add the meat or fish and fry till it’s golden brown. Remove the meat or fish from the pan and keep.
  3. Put the onion in the pan and fry together with the cayenne pepper, or red pepper, add any flavor of your choice and fry till the onion softens. Remove the onion and keep.
  4. In an oven or pot, put the broth and 3 cups of water. Add the onion mixture and meat or fish into the pot and cover.
  5. In the pan used for frying, add the tomatoes and vegetables and fry till they are tender. Add it to the broth.
  6. Add the rice to the tomato paste and stir on low heat till it turns pink-orange color.
  7. Add the rice to the pot and mix thoroughly.
  8. Cover the pot and cook on low heat, adding water and more seasoning occasionally.
  9. Shrimp should be added so that it won’t be overcooked and cook rice till the water dries up. Serve with any other garnishes.


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