Jollof Rice

You know, for being a guy who’s so pro-rice in the Paleo community, I have relatively few rice recipes out there. Sure, there are a bunch in my cookbook (the Dirty Rice recipe is my favorite), but considering the fact that we eat rice several times a week it should be better represented. So here’s a recipe.

Jollof Rice is a dish originally prepared by the Wolof people of Senegal and The Gambia, which has expanded to the rest of West Africa since. It is characterized by its addition of tomatoes and onions, and is put together in one pot – its other name, Benachin, means “one pot” in the Wolof language.

Wondering how rice fits into a Paleo-style diet? Read a bit about my take on it in this recipe from earlier this year.

Jollof Rice

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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2 cups basmati rice, rinsed and soaked for 1 hour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp madras curry powder (or other curry powder)
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup (8oz can) tomato sauce
salt to taste

1. Thoroughly rinse the rice (until the water runs clear), then soak in cool water for 1 hour. This will prevent the rice from clumping when cooked.

2. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add the peppers and sauté until slightly softened, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic. Sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, curry powder, thyme, and black pepper. Cook until the tomatoes are slightly darkened and soft, about 3 minutes.

3. Strain and rinse the rice, then add it to the skillet. Add the chicken broth and tomato sauce, then taste; it should taste good but a little under-salted (it will get saltier as the liquid evaporates). If you can’t taste any salt, add a little bit, maybe 1/2 tsp at a time.

4. Bring to a simmer then cover and reduce heat to low; cook until the liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes. Listen for a hissing sound coming from the pot to indicate the liquid has evaporated – don’t open the lid! Remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

** This rice is often served as a side dish, but other ingredients could be added to make it a main course. For example, you could add bite-sized pieces of chicken thighs when you add the tomatoes.

This rice dish pairs especially well with fish. We ate it with grilled mackerel.

Confession: I forgot to add the tomato sauce when making and photographing this recipe. Your rendition will likely be more orange than the yellow you see above.

18 thoughts on “Jollof Rice

  1. Nom nom nom… love your rice dishes. Is there any chance for an Ancestral Table 2 and 3? (new recipes and old recipes from this site)? =D Exceedingly hopeful the answer is yes!

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  2. Looks great! I’m not Paleo, but I do try to eat plenty of whole, unprocessed foods. Rice is one of those foods that I think has been demonised. Glad to see a self-confessed Paleo junkie eating and promoting rice.

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  3. Thanks so much for the recipe. i was struggling with what to make for dinner. Then is recipe shows up. I plan to add meat to the rice. Just another way to stretch to pennies when feeding a hungry family. Not to mention the 82nd Air Borne worth of teenagers that tag along for dinner. Thanks for making me look good in the kitchen.

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  4. Dirty rice is an at least once per month meal in our household since we bought your book. Can’t wait to try this recipe–unfortunately won’t be tonight–I’ve got your shepherd’s pie in the oven! Maybe tomorrow–but I’m certain this dish will keep us warm this cold, long winter (SO Jealous of your relocation!)

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    1. Considering the British influence in West Africa, I would think it’s safe to say that they introduced some of the Indian flavors in this dish. My guess is that Jollof Rice didn’t originally call for curry powder but that it was added later.

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  5. Being a person who cannot resist rice, it is so good to see it as part of an healthy option rather going off it completely. Jut read about you on Yahoo and decided to visit your site. Now it will be my reference guide. Keep up the great work

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  6. would this dish be possible to do with say, those bags of organic basmati rice they sell at trader joe’s that you can microwave in a bag? if you were doing that, how would that alter the directions? thanks.

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  7. SO DELICIOUS! Our family gives this one 5 stars. I tried it last night. The only modification was using fresh thyme and omitting the tomatoes (as my plant is done producing). It was a big hit with everyone at the table, including my toddler and husband who’s still on the standard american diet. THANKS!!

    Liked by 1 person

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