The Jollof Rice Conversation with Bosslady Cookist.

This conversation was born out of a desire to educate people on Jollof rice and a discussion I had with a friend a few days back. I’d be taking us on a journey through the history, origin recipe, myths and facts of this epic dish, come with me.😊

Jollof; definitions
A West African stew made with rice, chilli peppers, and meat or fish; from Oxford Dictionary
A West African dish of rice, tomatoes, onions, and seasonings;

A West African delicacy always made best by Ghanaians simply because Nigerians are jealous of Ghanaians’ naturally unique ability to perform a much better tasting jollof rice. Nonsense and ingredients as seen on urbandictionary.comπŸ™„πŸ™„

Let’s take a bit of the history first.
There is an unanimous agreement that Jollof rice is from the stables of the Wolof; an indigenous group across The Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania. Jollof rice is quite popular in West African countries, although the names and ingredients vary from region to region. In Senegal and the
Gambia, it is called ceebu jΓ«n or benachin, in francophone (french speaking) countries, it is called riz au gras.

Penda Mbaye, a cook from Saint Louis, Senegal, should be paid special homage. There is a consensus that she created the dish in the 19th century, first using barley before switching to rice during a barley shortage. This meal created out of improvisation is said to be the most
popular West African dish!

Source: Kitchen Butterfly

A gift that has its seeds sprinkled, like fine grain along the coast of West Africa; Jollof


“At that time, the region – from the Gambia River to Liberia was also known as the Grain or Rice coast because rice, millet and other grains were farmed grown along the banks of the SenegalRiver. Judith A. Carney in her book, β€˜Black Rice, The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas’ writes of the Senegal River as being an established Portuguese trading port where goods and services were exchanged.”

(Culled from KITCHENBUTTERFLY, worldjollofday, [online], Nigeria, KitchenButterfly, 2017, accessed April 1st, 2020,

It is worthy of note that there is always a heated discussion online amongst Nigerians, Ghanians and Senegalese as to who owns the bragging rights for this dish. The need to acknowledge and define Jollof rice is so intense that when Jamie Oliver, British Chef, published an inaccurate
recipe for Jollof in June 2014, West Africans put aside their conflict on Jollof rice and formed a united front to censure the recipe. They made it clear that his version was very much different from the original recipe, hence it should be discarded. The distortion of the original recipe is condemned and Jollof rice is held in a place of high esteem, especially due to its recognition by
the international community through Jollof wars.

However, history credits the Senagalese for the invention. Up until this moment, the war hasn’t ceased, there are many music videos, songs, articles and cook-offs to further ignite the war.
Is Bosslady for Nigeria, Ghana or Senegal? I’m better off just tucking in and enjoying this meal, but remember I’m Nigerian πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‹.
If you are not well acquainted with this meal and you are wondering how a rice dish can taste so nice, the secret is in how it soaks in so much flavour.

Who would have imagined that cooking plain rice, meat, peppers and spices all together in one pot will birth such soft, yet crisp tomato-stained grains, with so much sweetness locked inside them. This excellent dish can be eaten with salads, deep fried plantains, moimoi (beans pudding) amongst other things.

Different regions and their methods
Nigerians use pureed tomatoes, habaneros, red bell pepper, ginger, garlic, onions and tomato paste, along with parboiled long grain rice to prepare theirs.
Ghanaians use basmati or thai rice, with warm spices like clove, nutmeg or cinnamon, they also add some protein stock made of chicken or beef, to simmer the dish.
Senegalese use tamarind, and additional palm oil to the base of the cooking pan, which gives the dish a crusty edge.
Cameroonians use rice, peppers, spice and cook theirs with beef all in one pot. They enjoy the meal with carrots and green beans.

Liberians use hot peppers; as this is one of their treasures. They cook it with mixed vegetables and proteins.
Now that we have comprehended the regional differences, the billion-dollar question remains to be unanswered, which jollof is the best?!
Away from all the talk, here is a mouth-watering Nigerian Jollof recipe, the kind that tastes like party Jollof – smoky and flavourful.

4 cups of long grain rice (800gm)
11 plum fresh tomatoes
6 red bell peppers (tatashe)

5 scotch bonnet peppers (ata rodo)
3 medium sized onions
2 cups tomato paste (400gm)
A bottle of oil (75cl) not everything will be used😎😎
2 tablespoons curry masala
3 Knorr cubes (2 in 1)
1Β½ tablespoons dried thyme leaves
Salt, to your taste.
1Kg (whole, hard, cut up) Chicken or 1kg beef (raw)
2 Pinky finger sized gingers ( Bosslady is short limbed, so my pinky is quite small, all thanks to Abba)

5 pieces of bay leaf
1 tablespoons minced garlic
Foil paper


● Clean 8 of the tomatoes, all of the red bell peppers and scotch bonnet peppers, one of
the ginger fingers and half an onion. Afterwards blend to a smooth consistency.

● Set to boil on medium heat after blending.
● Clean the chicken or meat, place in a medium sized saucepan, add a pack of Knorr cubes, the other half onion left from the pepper, Β½ tablespoon of thyme and curry masala, ginger (somebody is probably wondering ginger again?πŸ™„πŸ™„

Yes, ginger again, I add it to every protein I cook except egg sha. I’m crazily obsessed with it! If you don’t like it, you can skip it.) lastly water. This is no particular order tho, you can add the water first. Set to boil.

Note: The aim of boiling the pepper is to enable the tangy tomato water and excess water dry up, be careful so it doesn’t get burnt.

● If the water is dried, bring down and let it cool.
● Once the protein is tender, pour half the oil bottle in a pan and a quarter onion, once the oil is hot, add the potein (beef or chicken) and fry till it is golden brown.

Note: The addition of onion to oil before frying, adds flavour to it in my own opinion. Slice a whole onion to the oil used in frying the protein, remember to remove the onion residue from frying the protein, it is probably black.

● Add the minced garlic, fry on low heat, for about 5 minutes, so the onions does not get
burnt. Then add the tomato paste, allow it cook for a while then add the boiled pepper,
stir then let it simmer for 2 minutes, add the spices ( knorr cubes, salt, curry masala,
dried thyme, bay leaves, stir and let it cook for 5 minutes. Something tantalising is wafting by your nose already right?πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰ Keep calm, ojina tan (Yoruba for it is almost

● Add the chicken or meat stock and allow simmer on medium heat. Add the washed rice to the cooking sauce and stir, ensure the rice is at the same level with the water, not too small or much. If it isn’t enough add water to it and ensure it is equal to the rice level, stir and cover with foil sheet or plastic bag and cover with a firm pot cover.

Note; The foil sheet is to ensure the steam doesn’t escape and cooks the rice properly.

● Check occasionally to see if cooked, if the water is dried and the rice isn’t cooked to your satisfaction, add a little water and cover.
● Slice the remaining onions and tomatoes, add to the rice and let the steam cook it.
Afterwards, cover and let it burn! Yes let it BURN! This is for the smokey flavour. Let the burning go on for about 3-5 minutes on medium heat or till your heart can’t take it
anymore πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. Bring it down and set it to cool.

Voila! Food is ready.

It is more advisable to cook Jollof rice with a cast iron pot rather than with a non-stick pot.
However, get your iron sponge ready for the cast iron pot. Immediately you turn out the rice from the pot, pour in water, so it will be easy to wash.
After adding the rice to the sauce, drop the iron spoon and pick up the wooden ladle, this is a tip gotten from the Olopo (Yoruba caterers).
Don’t parboil your rice before cooking it, just wash well and use. Also, before you soak the pot, remember that the bottom is the sweetest part!😩

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Behold the bottom, the sweetest part in all its glory and splendour.

For much more Jollof rice recipes, visit this link;


Question 1
Please ma, my question is how do one make Jollof rice in which it won’t stick together and what are the procedures in cooking it?

Answer 1
If you follow the recipe above and if you use long grain rice, the rice wouldn’t stick together and it’d come out nicely.

Question 2
You know there’s a difference between Jollof rice. There’s a place I know of in Agbowo their Jollof is πŸ‘Œ. Is it that they have a special recipe or is just that they spend more on ingredients and stuff, compared to the Jollof at KLAZZ.

Answer 2
The difference is definitely in the procedure and ingredients, you can’t expect Jollof rice cooked with tomato paste to taste the same with Jollof rice cooked with pureed boiled pepper and tomato paste. There are other factors to be considered also, the type of rice and spices amongst others.

Question 3
I know someone who is hellbent on not using maggi cubes for her Jollof rice. How can she make it taste better despite not using seasoning cube?

Answer 3
Cooking a tasty meal without bouilion cubes is very achievable. If she uses some spices such as rosemary, tamarind, cinnamon, protein stock and others, she’d definitely enjoy the meal. Bear in mind also that spicy doesn’t mean peppery.

Question 4
How can I cook tasty Jollof with tomato paste?

Answer 4
If you’d be cooking Jollof rice with tomato paste, mix the paste with water and add dry pepper, make sure the consistency is a little bit thick, set your pot to fire, add oil and onions then the tomato paste mixture, spices and continue the process as seen in the recipe above.

Question 5
Really, why is my Jollof never like my roommate’s even when we follow the same procedure 😒.

Answers 5
The grain of your rice might be different from your roommate’s also, the spices might be different, bear in mind that it is almost unachievable to cook the same meal with the same ingredients and procedure and it’d taste the same way.

Question 6
Hey babe!
Good afternoon.
I saw in your status a while ago that you covered your pot cover with foil paper when you were making Jollof rice.
Prior to that, I had seen a good amount of people do it on IG. They claimed it gives the jollof rice that party rice taste.
I decided to give it a try today and truthfully the rice turned out really well. It was soft but not soggy and I barely had to add water while cooking the rice. I did not achieve that party rice taste though. Could it be that it’s a myth or is there a specific technique

Answer 6
The purpose of the foil is that no steam escapes, everything cooks the rice, that’s why the little water you added cooked the rice.
The olopos (traditional caterers) that cook party Jolllof rice use big adogan pots, these pots have firm lids, so no steam escapes and the rice cooks on time. If you use a pot that has a very firm lid, you’d get the same effect.

I hope this exposition sparked up a flame of adventurous cooking in you, Remember my friend, that THERE IS MORE TO FOOD THAN EATING!

Drop your comments in the comment section, gracias amigos!


Published by Bosslady Cookist

A Nigerian teenager that is very passionate about food and cooking. Ibadan, Nigeria living; Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, France and Culinary Institute of America dreaming.

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