Recipe: Where Does Jollof Rice Originate From? Everything You Need to Know

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In the past few years, there have been many debates over the origin of jollof rice, with both Nigeria and Ghana claiming individual authenticity. It is, however, believed that jollof rice originated with the Wolof people of Senegal and Gambia. It is a popular dish believed to have been around since the 19th century. “Jollof” is derived from the Wolof language spoken in Senegal and means “one pot.” This is appropriate, as this one-pot meal is a staple of West African cuisine.

Also popular in Caribbean countries such as Jamaica, Jollof rice is sometimes referred to as “rice and peas.” It is a versatile dish that can be adapted to suit many cultural tastes. In Nigeria, the dish is often prepared with goat meat, while in Senegal, it is commonly prepared with fish. 

Below, I take you through a step-by-step process on how to prepare jollof rice

How Do You Prepare Jollof Rice?

How-to-prepare-jollof-rice
Source: Chef Lola

As established, jollof rice originates from the Senegambia region of West Africa, particularly Senegal. There, they call this rice dish thieboudienne or ceebu jen. 

The most important aspect of jollof rice is the stew or tomato sauce, which is carefully prepared with fresh tomatoes, onions, tomato paste, spices, oil, and pepper. Let’s look at the list of ingredients below.

What Are the Ingredients You Need in Preparing Jollof Rice?

How-to-prepare-jollof-rice
Source: Eatwellabi

To prepare jollof rice, the cook uses a mixture of rice, oil, onions, vegetables, tomatoes, and pepper. You can also use a variety of spices, depending on the type of protein you choose to cook with. 

You can add cloves, rosemary, or curry when using meat or chicken. Other ingredients include chicken spice, salt to taste, and dried aromatic herbs such as bay leaves, thyme, or mixed herbs.
You can add cloves, rosemary, or curry when using meat or chicken. Other ingredients include chicken spice, salt to taste, and dried aromatic herbs such as bay leaves, thyme, or mixed herbs.

For example, in cooking for a family of 5, you’ll need about, 

  • 20 pieces of fresh tomatoes
  • 3 pieces of large onions
  • Cloves of garlic 
  • Fresh pepper
  • 750 to 800g of chicken or beef
  • ½ tablespoon of whole cloves 
  • Cooking Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Some fresh ginger
  • Tomato puree (tomato paste)
  • 1 seasoning cube/bouillon cube (or salt to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 cups long-grain rice ( local or Thai jasmine)
  • 2 cups broth
  • ½ cup mixed carrots, green beans and peas (optional). 

Remember to thoroughly wash these ingredients.

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Step-By-Step Process of How to Prepare Jollof Rice in Ghana

How-to-prepare-jollof-rice
Source: Eatwellabi

As a Ghanaian, I’ll provide detailed documentation on how to prepare jollof rice in Ghana. And then, provide a summary of how to prepare jollof rice in Nigeria. Remember, the differences are few, but the process is almost identical. 

Jollof is typically cooked with a blend of spices like garlic, ginger, and cumin and served with a variety of proteins, such as chicken, beef, or fish.

The most important aspect of jollof rice is the stew or tomato sauce. Then comes rice, such as local rice or long-grain rice like Thai jasmine or Basmati rice.

  1. First, blend two onions, ginger, garlic, fresh peppers, and cloves together. 
  2. Use a portion to season your beef or chicken 
  3. Add seasoning cube/bouillon cube (or salt to taste) and 1 teaspoon thyme to the chicken or beef
  4. Put to boil
  5. Blend the fresh tomatoes
  6. Slice the remaining onion
  7. Put the oil on to boil.
  8. Add sliced onions.
  9. Stir for two minutes
  10. Add the blended ginger, onion, fresh pepper, garlic and cloves.
  11. Stir for a minute
  12. Add tomato paste
  13. Stir and allow cooking for a few minutes
  14. Add fresh tomatoes and leave to boil
  15. Check on the beef or chicken and stir slightly
  16. Separate beef or chicken from the stock when cooked
  17. Add the stock to the sauce on fire and stir
  18. Preheat oil in a saucepan and fry cooked beef or chicken, turning occasionally until it’s golden brown.
  19. While at it, check on the sauce and correct the seasoning ( cube/bouillon cube (or salt to taste) 
  20. Stir to boil
  21. Cover for a few minutes
  22. When cooked, you’ll notice that the oil will gather at the top of the sauce
  23. Add a cup of water
  24. Wash and add the rice
  25. Stir and leave to boil on low heat
  26. After 10 minutes, check and stir carefully
  27. Add a little or ¼ cup of water if the Jollof is hard
  28. Cover to cook
  29. After a few minutes, cover with a clean napkin right above the rice to lock in moisture and add natural cooking pressure. Close with the lid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  30. Once simmering nicely and the moisture has nearly all gone, add the peas, green beans and carrots and stir. Remember, this is step is optional. But it’s necessary for a balanced diet.
  31. The end result of this recipe for Ghanaian jollof rice brings you a brightly colored red/orange rice dish, with a beautiful spice. You would not imagine that boiling plain rice in the same pot as peppers, tomatoes, and herbs would create such soft, yet crisp tomato-stained grains, with so much sweetness locked inside them. 
  32. Once ready, serve hot with your fried chicken or beef.
  33. You can also serve it with Shito (a pepper-based sauce), enjoyed with a healthy range of other condiments such as salads, avocado and deep-fried ripe plantains.

How Do Nigerians Prepare Jollof Rice?

How-to-prepare-jollof-rice
Source: Urbanfarmie

Cooks usually prepare this stew by frying onions and adding tomato paste or puree to enrich the sauce. They add tomato, garlic, pepper, and ginger to the mixture, along with some spices. The sauce is reduced to a thick and rich red mixture once all the ingredients are in the pot. After adding the rice to the liquid, the rice is left to cook for a few minutes.

Among Nigerians, Uncle Ben’s style rice, easy cook rice, and Golden Sella Basmati rice are popular because of their plump, separated grain characteristics. This is rice that has been parboiled in the husk before milling. The result is a stiffer grain that does not stick together when cooked.

The chosen protein is then added to the dish, and it’s frequently served with fried plantains, steamed vegetables, coleslaw, and salad.

Can You Cook Jollof Rice in Europe?- The Case of Taltis Foods

Jollof rice has gained international recognition, perhaps due to the Jollof Wars between Nigeria and Ghana. Many Africans moving abroad have been longing for their traditional foods.

While there are so many “Jollof mixtures” on the market, the most significant contribution of this special dish to cross-border commerce in Europe in recent times is a ready-made Jollof sauce recipe by a Cameroonian entrepreneur, Gilles Tchiana. Tchiana’s jollof rice recipe won him an investment of $600,000 from Dragon Den’s Wes Hall. With this encounter,  jollof rice has gained even more popular than before.

jollof-wars
Source: Mama Ashanti

This innovation is important because it meets the home-sickness needs of most Africans in the diaspora since most ingredients used in preparing Jollof are hard to come by overseas. But the attention the jollof rice sauce is gaining goes beyond Africa. With this sauce, all you need is your broth and rice, and then bingo! Your jollof rice is ready.

If you’re African in Canada, you can always look for Taltis Foods if you don’t have the opportunity to find the ingredients to prepare jollof rice the traditional way or the time to do so. Support black businesses like Taltis Foods.

Now it’s clear that jollof rice originates from Senegal. Have you tasted jollof rice from various West African countries? In your opinion, who cooks the best jollof rice? 😀

How to Prepare Jollof Rice in Ghana- Video

Source: YouTube- Sweet Adjeley

Sweet Adjeley is one of Ghana’s most celebrated food vloggers. With over 1M subscribers on Youtube, Sweet Adjeley has various tutorials and recipes on various dishes locally and internationally. If you haven’t subscribed to her channel yet, do so, for you’re missing a lot!

Jollof Rice

Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal
Recipe: Where Does Jollof Rice Originate From? Everything You Need to KnowSedi Djentuh
Jollof rice is simply rice cooked in tomato sauce. The sauce is carefully prepared with fresh tomatoes, onions, tomato paste, spices, oil, pepper, spices and sometimes, vegetables. It’s popularly served with fried chicken.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine African
Servings 5
Calories 312 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 20 pieces of fresh tomatoes
  • 3 pieces of large onions
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 5 pcs Fresh pepper
  • 750 to 800 g of chicken or beef
  • ½ tsp of whole cloves
  • ½ cup Cooking Oil
  • 2 Cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup Tomato puree tomato paste
  • 1 seasoning cube/bouillon cube or salt to taste
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 cups long-grain rice local or Thai jasmine
  • 2 cups broth
  • ½ cup mixed carrots green beans and peas (optional).

Instructions
 

  • First, blend two onions, ginger, garlic, fresh peppers, and cloves together.
  • Use a portion to season your beef or chicken
  • Add seasoning cube/bouillon cube (or salt to taste) and 1 teaspoon thyme to the chicken or beef
  • Put to boil
  • Blend the fresh tomatoes
  • Slice the remaining onion
  • Put the oil on to boil.
  • Add sliced onions.
  • Stir for two minutes
  • Add the blended ginger, onion, fresh pepper, garlic and cloves.
  • Stir for a minute
  • Add tomato paste
  • Stir and allow cooking for a few minutes
  • Add fresh tomatoes and leave to boil
  • Check on the beef or chicken and stir slightly
  • Separate beef or chicken from the stock when cooked
  • Add the stock to the sauce on fire and stir
  • Preheat oil in a saucepan and fry cooked beef or chicken, turning occasionally until it’s golden brown.
  • While at it, check on the sauce and correct the seasoning ( cube/bouillon cube (or salt to taste)
  • Stir to boil
  • Cover for a few minutes
  • When cooked, you’ll notice that the oil will gather at the top of the sauce
  • Add a cup of water
  • Wash and add the rice
  • Stir and leave to boil on low heat
  • After 10 minutes, check and stir carefully
  • Add a little or ¼ cup of water if the Jollof is hard
  • Cover to cook
  • After a few minutes, cover with a clean napkin right above the rice to lock in moisture and add natural cooking pressure. Close with the lid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  • Once simmering nicely and the moisture has nearly all gone, add the peas, green beans and carrots and stir. Remember, this is step is optional. But it’s necessary for a balanced diet.
  • The end result of this recipe for Ghanaian jollof rice brings you a brightly colored red/orange rice dish, with a beautiful spice. You would not imagine that boiling plain rice in the same pot as peppers, tomatoes, and herbs would create such soft, yet crisp tomato-stained grains, with so much sweetness locked inside them.
  • Once ready, serve hot with your fried chicken or beef.
  • You can also serve it with Shito (a pepper-based sauce), enjoyed with a healthy range of other condiments such as salads, avocado and deep-fried ripe plantains.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 2cupsCalories: 312kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 19gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9.7gMonounsaturated Fat: 3.5gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 137mgPotassium: 400mgFiber: 2.2gSugar: 2.8g
Keyword Chicken, Jollof Rice
Moroccan Bissara
Moroccan Bissara, also known as ” Moroccan Bessara ” or “full nabed,” is a creamy flavourful soup made from pureed fava beans and a rich blend of ingredients drizzled with pure olive oil.
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Recipe: Where Does Jollof Rice Originate From? Everything You Need to Know

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Sedi Djentuh
Sedi Djentuh
Hey, Sedi here, a content writer. She's fascinated by the interplay between people, lifestyle, relationships, tech and communication dedicated to empowering and spreading positive messages about humanity. She's an avid reader and a student of personal weekly workouts. When she's not writing, Sedi is busy advocating for plastic-free earth with her local NGO.

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