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Growing up in Sierra Leone in West Africa, my parents cooked all kinds of local dishes, including Jollof Rice. It’s basically rice cooked in a fragrant, flavorful and spicy tomato sauce, which can be left vegan or bulked up with beef or chicken. It has basic pantry items but amazing flavor that you’ll love!
What is jollof rice?
Jollof rice is one-pot rice dish that is very popular in West African countries like Sierra Leon, Nigeria and Ghana among others. While it varies between regions, the unifying theme is always rice, a spicy tomato stew and the seasoning made up of curry, thyme, ginger and chili pepper.
How to make jollof rice
- Season and cook the steak. Remove from the pan.
- Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent.
- Add in the rice, along with the tomato paste and seasonings. Stir to combine.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients, the cooked steak and water; and bring to a boil.
- Simmer covered until the rice is cooked.
Tips for making jollof rice
- Make it more traditional by making a tomato puree first. To limit the recipe to only using one pot without the need for a blender, I cook the tomato paste, fresh tomatoes, green pepper and onions in the pot. Traditionally, you would puree the tomatoes, onions and peppers first and then cook in the pot.
- Make it vegan. It’s very common to serve the dish without any meat, so you can skip the first step and just keep it vegan. I usually like to add meat or chicken to bulk it up for the kids and I find that the steak cooking with the rice enhances the flavor.
- Turn up the heat. I’m not too fond of overly spicy food so my spicy ingredients here are limited to crushed red pepper, black pepper and sweet peppers. However, it’s common to also use scotch bonnet pepper or hot pepper.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, it’s great for meal prepping in advance. If you have leftovers, they will keep well in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Let it cool and store it in an airtight container. It can be warmed through on the stovetop to serve.
Yes, jollof rice is a great freezer friendly meal and will keep well for up to 3 months. If you aren’t using protein, you can reheat it from frozen in the microwave, otherwise let it thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating on the stovetop.
For more West African recipes
For more rice dishes
- Mexican Chicken and Rice
- Mediterranean Ground Beef and Rice
- One Pot Chicken and Rice
- Turmeric Rice Salad
- One Pan Shrimp and Rice
If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Jollof Rice recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 pound sirloin steak cut into small chunks
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cups long-grain white rice rinsed
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ teaspoon curry powder optional
- 3 roma tomatoes diced
- 1 red or green bell pepper diced, optional
- 2-3 bay leaves optional
- 3 cups water or chicken broth
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season the steak with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook until browned on the outside, about 5 minutes, stirring a couple times. Remove the steak and set aside.
- In the same pot used to cook the steak, add the onions with the remaining olive oil and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the rice on top of the cooked onions along with tomato paste, remaining salt and pepper, thyme, ginger and crushed red pepper; stir to combine until the rice is red in color and lightly toasted.
- Add the diced tomatoes and green pepper along with the bay leaves on top of the rice. Return the cooked steak to the pot along with the water.
- Mix all the ingredients together, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 15 minutes, until rice is fully cooked. Remove from heat and allow the steam to continue cooking the rice for 5-10 more minutes.
- Fluff the rice, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve warm.