Keep Calm and Eat Jollof Rice(Tips for making the perfect jollof rice)


“What if I told you that Jollof is a state  of mind?” As a Nigerian, “Jollof” is a state of mind. To a Nigerian, it means sweetness, happiness, joy:)


Jollof rice is said to have originated from the Wolof tribe in Senegal, it was a great empire which was divided into parts of the Gambia.
Now in the whole of Africa, different countries celebrate this dish in their own way. Each country has their different technique with which they cook the perfect Jollof rice. I have seen the Ghanaian style and the Nigerian style (which I have spent the year perfecting). There is this untold battle between Nigerians and Ghanaians on whose jollof rice is better. The Ghanians tend to have a softer and mushier rice; while the Nigerians enjoy their version steamed, a little dry and in single grains. I did taste some Ethiopian style jollof rice made with broken rice. It had the color and looked delicious, but it was mushy and had no maggi ?  No way! And they used perfumed rice for it…All I could taste was the smell…Don’t ask abeg *eye roll…I keep reading about the untold battle between Nigerians and Ghanaians on who makes the best Jollof rice. Oh puhlease! There is no battle…it’s quite unnecessary when we already know that there’s no doubt that Nigerians make the best Jollof rice (go and argue with your emotions please:) )


I remember when Jamie Oliver made his version. There was the war of the Jollofs with a hashtag #jollofgate. Poor guy was told off by both Nigerians and Ghanaians. As in Nigerians and Ghanaians united and fought the Jollof fight. Or was it when Tesco made their adaptation and posted the recipe on their website? Someone said “no tomato in that rice!” lwkmd, you do not mess with our Jollof rice.
When it comes to seasonings and ingredients for jollof rice, the basics are tomatoes, tomato paste, meats, spices such as; nutmeg, garlic and ginger. You may also add vegetables to your mix. The wahala Jamie caused was when he added parsley and no “maggi” to his adaptation. There was an uproar especially over the lack of maggi in his recipe. Like who does that? Poor guy:)


In every wedding and celebration in Nigeria, there is almost always Jollof rice on the menu. Nigerians do eat a lot of rice, we can eat rice at our homes and still go to a party the same day and eat Jollof  rice; especially  when it comes to party Jollof. Hey! There is nothing absolutely  wrong with it!



Some things you must get right when you want to cook Jollof rice is getting the right kind of long grain rice and taking the time to fry the stew; then steaming the rice until you get the right consistency/bite. You can be a good cook, in fact you can be Chef Mario Batali, but if you do not know how to cook jollof rice; just “gerrout” of the kitchen and get the stepping.



I once visited a friend and his twin brother and I took some food with me. Among the bowls I took was a bowl of Jollof rice. They could not wait to taste it and of course when they did, they gave me their seal of approval. Listen, it meant a lot to me. I was so relieved because Nigerians do not play with their Jollof. I recently made some for my uncles, but I first had to feed my ajebutters and their friends; whose parents are from Ghana and Ivory coast respectively. They were so happy eating and “hmming” away. Since then they never eat Jollof rice from anyone else. I remember one of them said to me “aunty, I have some snacks in my snack pack, but I’d rather eat your Jollof rice.” Hian see these children oh 🙂

Apart from being a state of mind, Jollof rice is likened to an amazing personality and a life style. We use languages like “Jollof boy ” meaning a happy boy or a sumptuous woman.


To my jollof rice, I add spices like ginger, cloves and garlic. Yes some will say it’s heresy, but you have got to try it not to knock it. So here with all our different love and interpretation of Jollof rice, I dont see anyone, any tribe and any country as its sole owner. Though you literally haven’t lived until you have had a bowl of Nigerian Jollof. Get your life if e pain you 🙂


Below are a few tips to making the perfect Jollof rice

*Type of rice:

Usually any long grain or Basmati would do. Just make sure it’s properly washed clean and drained of all liquids. If making Jollof risotto; then a shorter grain can be used.


I always use slightly more warm to hot meat stock or water compared to my rice. For example if I’m making 3 cups of Jollof rice, I opt for about 31/2 cups of stock/water. I usually bring it to a boil; then cover with a grocery bag or foil and a tight lid to steam on medium to low heat. Steaming, and the amount of heat used matters a great deal. Jollof rice cooks perfectly with steam. During the days when I was teaching myself to cook Jollof rice, I usually would just boil it and I kept having to add more water each time as it dried out; until I learnt the act of steaming and it saved my life and time. Also, the use of meat stock is paramount, but you could always make your rice with water and the right amount of spices.

*Seasonings and spices

Cooking Jollof rice with the right spices and cooking the spices correctly counts for a good foundation. Some of the spices I use are cloves, thyme, curry, smoked paprika, bay leaves, black pepper and white pepper. The secret is to fry these spices in the oil for about a minute before adding your onion and tomatoes puree. The frying helps to release the flavors of the spices. Give it a try and please let us know how it goes


Okay, a lot of people do this differently. Some use tomato paste and bell peppers to get the right color. Recently, I have been using fresh tomatoes and bell peppers only. There’s nothing wrong with using tomato paste. Using fresh tomatoes and bell peppers have just always been an alternate preference. Patience also plays a big part in the color. It takes time to get the right consistency of the fried stew for Jollof rice. After frying your stew, it should look a little dark and dry before adding your rice to the mix.


Errm I cannot stress it any more than I do already. Your rice should not come out dripping with water or stew. Aldente is everything! It shouldn’t be too soft nor should it be hard. (Somewhere in between). If your rice is too hard, you could add a little more hot water or stock. Do not cook your rice with cold stock or cool water! You want the liquid to meet with the rice and heat up quickly as opposed to taking its good time to heat up when it’s poured in cold; therefore, causing too much burning. If your rice has too much water, pour it into a wide tray and stuff it into the oven on high heat(350 degrees) to dry it out. If not , you could use 9jafoodie’s pot method.


This right here is the Glory of Jollof rice. You could add it at the beginning or at the end. It gives it a glistening color and silky feel

Any Jollof questions? Please feel free to ask in the comments 🙂

images; google


  1. destiny says:

    l was laughing while reading this post. lol Jollof rice should not be runny or The moment when you realized she had Jesus and can cook jollof funny…I enjoyed reading this post. Keep up the good work

  2. Ene says:

    lol!!! funny post.. i’m going to try the prying the spices method and hopefully come back with a testimony!.. P.S its only once in my life i never burnt jollof rice… its always burning every time… :/

  3. MommaF says:

    Nice! Will try out the part of frying the spices in oil before adding onions and tomatoes. I follow you on Instagram and I see you’re doing a great job, even though initially I thought “why will anyone call themselves a lazy chef?”. Now reading your profile, I understand better. Well done, Nma.

  4. Emmanuel says:

    Pls, wat tribe in Nigeria originally owns jollof rice and what’s the difference between how Igbo cook there’s compared to d Yoruba one?

    • Nma Okpara says:

      No tribe owns Jollof rice in Nigeria. It is a dish originally owned by the Wollof people of Senegal. I know the Yoruba people make Palm oil rice with Iru though. I hope this helps

  5. Emannuel Onyedikachukwu says:

    Thanks but I just heard that there’s a subtle difference in the Igbo and Yoruba versions of even the classic jollof rice and that Igbos are more likely to put certain things. How much do you know about that?

    And is there a difference in how jollof rice was cooked in Nigeria in 70s and d 80s compared to now? Tnx.

    • Nma Okpara says:

      I’m not sure about the difference, but I can do a survey lol. About the difference in Jollof rice in the 70’s and 80’s…hmm it sounds interesting, but I am not sure about that. I’m so sorry 🙂

  6. Sherri says:

    I don’t see the full recipe I’m not Nigerian so I don’t know how to make it but I would love to try it for my family.

  7. Tina says:

    I love this post! Insightful & ? funny! This is my first time reading clove in a recipe. I will be trying soon! Also, what oil(s) do you prefer to use??

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