Chef John’s Jollof Rice

This is an easy proof recipe for cooking Jollof rice, the most popular dish in West Africa. I like to serve it as a side with my West African style roast beef (Suya), but it can also be a main course.



Tomato sauce:

. 1 large tomato, ripe, sliced ​​and quartered

. 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped

. 1 whole habanero pepper, stems removed

. 1 Fresno chili, or jalapeño, de-stemmed

. 4 garlic cloves, peeled

. 1 tablespoon ground ginger

. 2 cups of water


. 1/3 cup olive oil

. 1 red onion, diced

. 1 teaspoon salt, add more to taste

. 1/4 cup tomato paste

. 2 tablespoons smoked paprika

. 1 teaspoon curry powder

. 1 teaspoon cumin

. 1 teaspoon dried thyme

. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

. 2 1/4 cups basmati rice

. 1 bay leaf

. 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon paste

. 1/4 cup chopped green onion for garnish (optional)

. 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)


Step 1

Combine the tomatoes, red bell pepper, habanero pepper, fresno chili, garlic, ginger and water in a blender for the sauce. Mix on high until smooth and set aside.


Step 2

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and sauté until the onion begins to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Make a space in the center of the pan, add the tomato paste, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with paprika, curry powder, cumin, thyme, pepper, and turmeric; continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes until everything is combined.


Step 3

Turn off the heat, and stir the rice, making sure each grain of rice is coated with the oil-tomato mixture. Add bay leaf and chicken bouillon paste.


Step 4

Turn up the heat, stir in the tomato sauce, and bring to a boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not remove the lid or stir the rice.


Step 5

Turn off the heat after 20 minutes, and set the timer for 12 minutes. Let the rice sit and do not remove the lid.


Step 6

After the 12 minutes are up, remove the lid, and fluff the rice with a fork, separating all the grains. Serve garnished with green onions and chopped cilantro.


Cook’s Note:
If the rice looks a little undercooked at this point, stop expanding. Gently pat the rice with the back of a fork, cover tightly again, and set the heat to medium-low. Cook for another 5 minutes, and check again.


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