Otherwise known as Nigeria’s party rice, Nigerian Jollof Rice is the gluing agent that brings people of all ages together. It is the ultimate fusion of spicy tomato broth, Nigerian curry, dried herbs, and parboiled long-grained rice. The smell and the distinct smoky taste are impossible to look past.
Nigerian cuisine has a huge thing for rice. What Western kitchens consider as a side dish is considered the main course here. Some rice meals, like Nigerian Jollof Rice, can even go as far as replacing barbecue and braai for main events. It isn’t called Nigeria’s party rice for nothing.
So, how is it different from Nigerian fried rice? The main difference is the tomato broth that forms not only the foundation of its unique flavor but also its dark orange color. The broth is easy to cook, but you will probably see different variations for this part of the recipe.
In our version, we are putting our fresh tomatoes through a food processor or a blender to generate a smooth tomato stew.
Once you have your tomato stew, the rest is straightforward. Cook your rice in the tomato stew with your stock, vegetables of your choice, and maybe even a few shreds of smoked fish (like mackerel or croaker).
Nigerian Jollof Rice has perhaps hundreds of different interpretations, and the favorite amongst Nigerians is the smoky rice cooked on woodfire. Of course, not everyone gets to escape into nature every weekend.
The good news is, you can accomplish that same smoky flavor from the comfort of your own kitchen. We will also mention some tricks about that.
On to the recipe!
- 3¾ cups (750g) long-grain parboiled rice
- 2-3 cups Tomato Stew
- Chicken (whole chicken, drumsticks, or chicken breast)
- Pepper and salt (to taste)
- 2 medium onions
- 3 Knorr cubes
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 2 teaspoons curry powder (Nigerian curry powder)
- 2 cups mixed vegetables containing corn, carrots, green beans, and peas
- 1/2 bulb red pepper
- 1/2 bulb green pepper
- 1 habanero pepper (optional)
- Vegetable oil
- Blend the fresh tomatoes, one onion, and habanero pepper in a blender.
- If chicken is too large, cut into chunks and cook. Add your blended tomato mixture over the chicken. Add one or two Knorr cubes, chopped onions, salt, 2 tablespoon curry powder, and thyme. Bring to a boil for 20 - 25 minutes. The goal is to reduce the mixture to let the flavors come out.
- Remove stewed chicken, broil or bake in the oven or leave in a saucepan with the tomato sauce.
- Measure out your Jasmine rice. Rinse and add into the cooking pot.
- Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Add chopped and mixed vegetables, shrimps, freshly chopped onion, seasoning cubes, curry powder, thyme, vegetable oil, and salt. For a kick, add one or two bay leaves and a dash of parsley. For a more traditional flavor, add small chunks of smoked fish.
- Cook on medium heat until the water dries up roughly another 10-15 minutes.
Having difficulty achieving the perfect rice consistency that does not look like mashed potatoes? Preheat your oven to 350ºF, add all your ingredients including the blended tomatoes, chicken, and vegetable oil. Stir, replace the lid (the rice will dry out too quickly without the lid on), and place in the oven. Cook for 30-45 minutes. It’s ok to stir the content midway through the cooking process and add some water if needed. Once cooked, remove from the oven. Stir to evenly mix the rice and vegetable. Serve hot!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 381Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 195mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 9gSugar: 13gProtein: 22g
Tips About the Tomato Stew In Nigerian Jollof Rice
The most crucial thing about the tomato stew is, you guessed it, the choice of tomato. In this recipe, we are using fresh plum tomatoes because they have a sweeter and softer taste compared to other types.
Also, other tomato types contain too much water or too many seeds for our stew, while plum tomatoes are the fleshiest. The next best choice would be Roma tomatoes.
Then, we have the tomato paste, which helps to deepen the flavor and the red color. Depending on where you live, you will find tomato puree or paste in different densities. If you are using an almost solid paste, you should add a bit of water to make it softer and prevent it from burning.
The thick paste should be added later along with the onions. On the other hand, if you are using a more watery tomato puree, you should cook it in the beginning along with the fresh tomato blend.
Alternatively, you can replace tomato paste/puree with more blended tomatoes, or blended red bell peppers even.
The type and amount of oil you use will also determine the success of your Nigerian tomato stew. Vegetable oil is the perfect choice for frying the tomato blend, which gives the rice its slightly smoky flavor. When it comes to making tomato stew, you can never use too much oil.
The problem with adding very little oil is that you run the risk of burning your onions and tomatoes, especially after the water content has evaporated. That said, you can always drain excess oil in the end.
Tips About Cooking The Rice
The secret to a perfect texture in Nigerian Jollof Rice is to use parboiled rice, which you can make prior to the main cooking steps. This will prevent burning or sogginess.
You can use basmati or jasmine rice, but always remember to follow the correct rice: water ratio. Then, you constantly need to check the softness. The rice shouldn’t be rock hard and crunchy, but also shouldn’t boil to the point of fluffiness. About half the time you need for complete cooking should suffice.
The last step is the most crucial, which is to dip your rice in cold water. Never mix the hot rice with the other ingredients, or you will end up overcooking the rice.
- One key to obtaining a smoky flavor is to use black pepper and white pepper when seasoning.
- To make your Nigerian Jollof Rice richer, you can add mixed vegetables. Our recipe calls for corn, carrots, green beans, and pea, but you are the boss here.
- The best companion of Nigerian Jollof Rice is fried chicken. You can use chicken breasts, thighs, or drumsticks. The method of cooking is up to you, whether it is grilling or frying.
Frequently Asked Questions About Nigerian Jollof Rice
It’s okay; everybody makes mistakes. When you realize your rice is becoming soggy, remove the rice from the stove right away, and place it in a fridge shelf (but keep the door open) until it cools down. Then, you can spread the rice on a wide tray and throw it in the oven to evaporate the excess water.
Nigerian Jollof Rice is like an all-star league of nutrients. The tomato and pepper bring on vitamins C, A, K, and B, while the onion is a great source of potassium and vitamins B and C. In addition, by parboiling the rice, you are preserving the rich mineral content of the rice that contains iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
There are plenty of dishes you can eat with Nigerian jollof rice, such as beef or goat stew, chicken stow, grilled chicken, and even shrimp! There are no limitations here.
Absolutely! You just have to follow the instructions for cooking the rice, and let the final product rest for 10 minutes before opening the lid.
With this simple yet divine Nigerian fried rice recipe, you will unleash your inner Nigerian party animal!
All jokes aside, this spicy fried rice is an amazing form of comfort food and is so essential that any African stew or grilled meat would be left an orphan without it. Let us know what you ate with your jollof rice in the comments down below.
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