Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Recipe for Jollof Rice

Jollof rice is considered a staple dish in many West African countries though it's said to have originated in the Senegambia region (Senegal, Gambia) among the Wolof ethnic group. There are lots of variations on recipes for this, differing between regions as much as between families. Some include a multitude of vegetables, others none at all; fish, chicken or beef, or no meat at all. Some use spices like curry and turmeric, others only the quintessential maggie cube and hot pepper. Essentially, it's a one pot dish with the basic ingredients of tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, hot pepper and of course, rice. 

Jollof rice came up in so many books this past year - whether non fiction books teaching about West African countries, a mention in picture books, and in the memoirs I've read - this dish was on my list of recipes to make from the beginning of our "travels". And it does not disappoint! It was tasty and comforting, all four of us enjoyed it and it's a dish we'll be making again.

I wanted us to fully appreciate the rice, so opted to serve it as the main dish with Nigerian dodo on the side (fried plantains, recipe here). Had it been grilling season though, I would have served it with suya, West African peanut & beef kebabs - these look so good, I'll just have to try those this summer. 

Jollof Rice

Serves 4-6 as a main dish, or 6-8 as a side dish


  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 3 cups chicken broth (or 1 maggie cube dissolved in 3 cups water)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, finely diced (optional, for a bit of spice)
  • 1 cup carrots, finely diced
  • 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 5 tbsp of tomato paste
  • salt & pepper to taste
1. Puree together the tomato paste and the diced tomatoes. Set aside. Preheat your oven to 350.

2. In a large, oven proof pot with a cover, heat the vegetable on medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic and pepper, and fry until softened, about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the carrots and ginger, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the water, and cook until it's completely absorbed, about another 5 minutes.

3. Once the water is absorbed, add the rice and season with salt & pepper. Stir while cooking for 2 minutes. Then add the tomato puree and broth. Bring to a boil.

4. Once the rice mixture is boiling, cover the pot and bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour. Be sure to stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom - once every 15 or 20 minutes. 

Serve with your choice of sides and enjoy!


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