My Mum’s Jollof Rice

A message from my mum: “Jollof rice is a typical west African dish served daily in homes. It is also used during celebrations such as birthdays, baby naming ceremonies, weddings and festive periods like Christmas. Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, this is how we made ours. We always used DeRica tomato paste. And as for the rice, we’ve always preferred using basmati.”

  • Author: zenak
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 1x



For the base:

  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into small pieces
  • 2 medium vine tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 2 red scotch bonnet chillies, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 25g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 100ml water

For the rice: 

  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 150g double concentrated tomato purée (we use DeRica)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 chicken stock cubes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 600ml water
  • 600g white basmati rice


  1. Place the base ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven set over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, then add the tomato purée and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to darken, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Pour in the blended base, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and partially cover the pot with the lid – it will splatter! Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by about a third of its original volume and the oil begins to separate from the sauce, 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the curry powder, thyme, stock cubes, bay leaves and water. Season generously with salt and pepper, to taste, then cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  5. Meanwhile, rinse the rice thoroughly with cold water until the water runs clean, then drain. Add the rice to the sauce and stir to combine. As soon as it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for 25 minutes.
  6. By this point, the rice should have absorbed all the liquid and be cooked through. Remove the bay leaves, give the rice a stir and you’re ready to serve, preferably with grilled chicken and fried plantain.


  • For a milder jollof, use 1 scotch bonnet. If you’re a bona fide spice king/queen, feel free to use 3 or 4.
  • Jollof rice is a little tricky to master. After the 25 minutes of cooking time, if the rice is sauce-logged, take the lid off the pot to cook off any excess moisture. If the rice is dry and/or undercooked, stir in 100 ml to 200 ml water, cover and continue to steam over low heat.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram, tagging @zenaskitchen. I can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

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Amena Siddiqui
1 year ago

Hi, what goes in curry powder?

màn hình led
5 months ago

After going through the article titled “My Mum’s Jollof Rice,” I am truly touched by the personal and heartfelt story it shares. The article effectively conveys the deep connection between food and memories, especially in the context of a beloved family recipe. The mention of “My Mum’s Jollof Rice” immediately creates a sense of nostalgia and warmth. This type of article not only celebrates the culinary aspect but also the cultural and emotional significance of dishes passed down through generations. The personal anecdotes and description of the recipe add a personal touch that resonates with readers who also have cherished family recipes. Overall, it’s a heartwarming read that reminds us of the power of food to connect us with our roots and loved ones.

scott southam
2 months ago

First time tasting jollof rice so cannot compare to other recipes. This was delicious. Used brown basmati rice and cooking time was almost double. Will certainly use this recipe again. Thank you