Spicy Jollof Rice Recipe (West African)
Spicy Jollof Rice Recipe – This delicious West African rice recipe includes peppers, tomatoes, and lots of bold and spicy seasonings. It’s easy to prepare – even in one pot! – and is perfect to serve as a hearty main or side dish.
West African Spicy Jollof Rice Recipe
Zesty and flavorful Jollof Rice is a spicy rice dish commonly made in West African countries such as Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, and Cameroon. It’s bold and tangy, with lots of spicy and smoky undertones simmered in a pureed tomato base. The taste and texture are similar to Spanish rice, but with a greater kick of heat you’ll love!
Jollof rice is a delicious and hearty main or side dish. It is typically enjoyed with saucy African curries made with sweet potatoes and peanuts. In the states, we often associate and serve West African dishes with Caribbean recipes like Brown chicken stew, Jamaican Goat Curry, Suya Chicken, grilled fish, and fried or baked plantains.
Traditional Ghana or Nigerian Jollof rice is prepared as a one-pot dish. However you can use two pots to speed up the cooking time.
This satisfying side or main dish is easy to make, but does require a bit of patience for the best Spicy Jollof Rice… It can be served right away, but tastes even more amazing if it is allowed to sit for at least an hour so that the seasonings really blend together.
Ingredients You Need
Classic Ghana and Nigerian Jollof Rice uses simple, wholesome ingredients to create a great depth of flavor. To make this easy spicy rice recipe you need:
- Long-grain rice – white rice is traditional, but feel free to use long-grain brown rice if you like
- Cooking oil – your preferred flavorless oil
- Chicken bouillon – or veggie bouillon
- Seasonings – curry powder, smoked paprika, dried thyme, bay leaves, plus salt
- Water – to cook the rice
- Canned diced tomatoes – we prefer fire-roasted but you can use whatever variety you prefer
- Sweet onion – peeled and chopped
- Red bell pepper – seeded and chopped
- Habanero pepper – with or without seeds, depending on how spicy you want your Jollof rice recipe
- Garlic cloves – peeled and left whole
- Ginger – peeled if the skin is tough
Want a really spicy West African Jollof Rice? Add extra habanero for a super hit of spice!
How to Make Spicy Jollof Rice
You can prepare this recipe in one or two pots, depending on how much time you have. We’ve made our Nigerian Jollof Rice with two pots for a quick version. Read on for tips for making as a one-pot rice dish!
To make our favorite Spicy West African Jollof Rice recipe, first, rinse the rice in a bowl with cold water until the water runs mostly clear. This reduces the stickiness and makes the rice more fluffy and tender. Drain off the water and set the rice aside.
Next, set out a large pot and a medium pot on the stovetop. Place the large pot over medium heat and add the oil, rinsed rice, chicken bouillon, curry powder, paprika, thyme, and bay leaf. Toss to thoroughly coat the rice in the spices. Then stir in 4 cups of water (or chicken broth, if not using bouillon). Cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and vent holes form on the top of the rice.
Remove the rice from the heat and keep covered for another 5 minutes to steam.
Meanwhile, peel and cut the onion into wedges. Remove the seeds from the bell pepper and cut it into large chunks. Remove the seeds from the habanero – or don’t, for extra heat. Peel the garlic cloves. You can leave the peel on the ginger if it is soft and papery. However, if the exterior seems tough and dry, peel it off.
Next, add the canned tomatoes and prepped ingredients from above in a blender. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover and puree until smooth.
Then pour the veggie puree into the medium pot. Turn the heat on medium, and bring to a simmer. Cook and stir continually for at least 10 minutes to thicken the puree and intensify the flavor.
Once the rice is cooked and the puree has cooked down to a thick paste, gently mix the puree into the rice. Use a spatula or large spoon to mix just until the rice is coated. Then turn off the heat and cover the rice.
Note: If you prefer to make Jollof Rice as a one-pot dish, cook the rice first per the recipe instructions. Remove it from the pot and set it aside in a bowl. Then simmer the sauce in the same pot, and add the rice back in after it has reduced. This will only take an extra 12-15 minutes.
You can serve the Jollof Rice immediately, but it will taste even better if it has time to rest. I usually make it about 1-2 hours before serving it with an African or Caribbean curry dish. Simply reheat on the stovetop and enjoy warm.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can prepare this recipe to be vegetarian and vegan-friendly simply by swapping the chicken bouillon for vegetable bouillon or broth.
Enjoy a hearty bowl of this spicy rice by itself, or pair with any number of dishes. We love to eat Jollof Rice as a side dish to simple grilled fish or grilled chicken, or with saucy curries and stews. As a main vegetarian course it’s great with steamed peas and plantains.
Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Looking for More Delicious Rice Recipes?
- Caribbean Confetti Rice
- Mujadara Lentils and Rice (Lebanese Rice)
- Chicken Bog (Rice Pilaf Recipe)
- Easy Red Beans and Rice Recipe
- Cheesy Enchilada Rice
Spicy Jollof Rice Recipe (West African Rice)
- 16 ounces long-grain rice about 2 ¼ cups
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon or base
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 4 cups water
- 15 ounce can diced tomatoes I used fire-roasted
- 1 sweet onion average size
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 1 habanero pepper 2 for really hot
- 5-6 garlic cloves
- 2- inch piece ginger
- Place the rice in a large bowl and rinse with cold water until the water run mostly clear. (This reduces the stickiness of the rice.) Then drain off the water and set the rice aside.
- Set out a large pot and a medium pot. Place the large pot over medium heat. Add the oil, rinsed rice, chicken bouillon, curry powder, paprika, thyme, and bay leaf. Toss to coat the rice in the spices. Then stir in 4 cups water. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until vent hole form on the top of the rice. Then remove from the heat, keep covered, and let the rice steam for another 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel and cut the onion into wedges. Remove the seeds from the bell pepper and cut it into large chunks. Remove the seeds from the habanero (or don’t, for extra heat.) Peel the garlic cloves. You can leave the peel on the ginger if it is soft and papery. If it seems tough and dry, peel it off.
- Place the canned tomatoes, onion wedges, red bell pepper, habanero, garlic cloves, and ginger in a blender. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and puree until smooth.
- Pour the veggie puree into the medium pot. Turn the heat on medium, and bring to a simmer. Simmer and stir continually for about 12 minutes to thicken the puree and intensify the flavor.
- Once the rice is cooked and the puree has cooked down to a thick paste, combine the two items in one pot. Gently mix the puree into the rice, coating well. Then turn off the heat and cover the rice.
- You can serve the Jollof Rice immediately, but it will taste even better if it has time to rest. I usually make it about 1-2 hours before serving it with an African or Caribbean curry dish.
Making this recipe? Follow us on Instagram and tag @ASpicyPerspective so we can share what you’re cooking!