Cuisines Around the World: West African Jollof Rice

One of the main reasons people travel is to sample delicacies. Apart from its outstanding football players, West Africa is also famous for its music, dancing, and cuisine. The Jollof rice is one of the most famous cuisines that has crossed boundaries from its homeland and garnered recognition.

History has it that jollof rice originated in the Senegambian area, which included portions of today’s Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania, and was governed by the Wolof or Jolof Empire in the 14th century where rice was growing.

Since 2010, Jollof rice has been wallowing in its splendor watching certain West African nations fight over its ownership. Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, and other African countries have competed to see who can create the finest rice dish. Ghana and Nigeria, out of all of these nations, are the most vocal; they have pushed the fight even further by organizing physical tournaments in both countries and constantly launching social media challenges. Have you heard of Ghanaian or Nigerian Jollof? The conflict is still going on.

Jollof food festivals were hosted in Washington, DC, and Toronto, Canada in 2015. Since then, August 22 has been designated as World Jollof Day, and the dish has grown in popularity across West Africa.

Rice, veggies, protein, and oil are used to make this meal. It is served with or without a sauce, as well as with fried plantains, salads, and baked beans. You make the call! Even with the same recipe, the food tastes vary from country to country and person to person. So, how do we choose the winner?

The Ghanaian Jollof Recipe


  • Jasmine rice
  • A protein of your choice (goat meat, beef, chicken, fish, sausages, pork, etc)
  • Vegetable oil
  • One large onion
  • Habanero pepper
  • Can tomato paste
  • Tomatoes
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Shrimp powder
  • One stock cube
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Spices
  • Bell pepper, carrot, and spring onion (for garnishing)



  • Blend about three to four cloves of garlic together with ginger and half onion.
  • In a saucepan, heat your meats or chicken, and then add your blended garlic, onion, and ginger, along with salt to suit. (You may marinate your meat or chicken a day before or only an hour before cooking.)
  • Stir to combine, cover the saucepan, and simmer in its own juices until the oil begins to froth. It should take roughly 10 to 15 minutes to complete this task.
  • Blend tomatoes, half onion, habanero pepper, and tomato paste. Heat the mixture in a saucepan of vegetable oil until most of the moisture is out.
  • To prepare your sauce, combine both components in one saucepan; add shrimp powder and one stock cube. If you’re using chicken as your protein, you’ll need to remove the chicken from the stock at this stage and fry it after Jollof is cooked before serving. You may leave the meat in the mixture if you’re aiming for meat like I am. 
  • Add your washed rice, stir until each grain of rice is well coated with the sauce, and stir fry for about two to three minutes. Add water to loosen the mixture and add some salt to taste. The texture of your rice will determine how much water you will need.
  • Allow the water to evaporate by covering it with parchment paper or a napkin. Stir about three times following the desired time interval of your choice while it’s on fire to ensure the steam gets through to cook the Jollof to perfection. 
  • Add your chopped bell pepper, carrot, and spring onions, stir and serve.

You may have your Jollof now, but as I said before, it goes well with fried plantains, baked beans, salad, or shito, a local sauce originating from Ghana. You can also choose to have all three side dishes with your Jollof. 

If you choose plantain as I do, you can go ahead and cut it in a circle shape or any desired shape, fry it until it turns golden brown in color, and add it to your Jollof. Bon appétit!


Photo: RaylightVisuals/Shutterstock


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