Next-Level Nigerian Jollof Rice
Jollof rice is an exquisite one-pot dish deeply rooted in West African history and culture. Its simple ingredients, complex flavors, and inviting aroma make it one of my go-to favorites. And clearly I’m not alone, as regional variations are a source of great pride from Sub-Saharan Africa to Creole Gullah and Geechee communities to my Southern California home.
Growing up, it seemed like everyone in my family had their own unique take on Nigerian Jollof rice, but one thing they all had in common was that they were time-consuming to make. That is what originally inspired me to reimagine the process.
I decided rather than prepping and slowly boiling down the ingredients to create my base, I would try roasting my veggies and popping them in the blender instead. It made sense given the familiar magic of roasting tomatoes, peppers, and garlic. So I decided to test my idea.
Of course, I also love to try new things and the thought of adding meat and/or seafood (à la paella) to create a complete meal also intrigued me. So I did just that.
The results exceeded all expectations.
Above and beyond saving a lot of time, the rich, mellow, smoky flavors drawn out by the oven-roasting elevated the dish to a whole new level. It’s the perfect fusion of comfort food and subtle sophistication. Sweet. Spicy. Sublime. I can’t recommend it enough!
If you want an easy and delicious dish that can stand on its own as a satisfying meal or steal the show as a scrumptious side, this is the recipe for you.
7 Tomatoes (whole)
2 Bell Pepper (whole, wrapped in foil or parchment paper)
1 Onion (whole, wrapped in foil or parchment paper)
1 Head of Garlic (whole, wrapped in foil or parchment paper)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Diced Onion
1 Tbsp Curry Powder
1/2 Tsp Thyme
1/4 Tsp Salt
1 Bay Leaf
1 Dried Chile Pepper (optional)
1/4 cup chorizo (optional for flavor)
1/4 sausage (optional for flavor)
2 1/2 cups Rice
8 Oz Chicken or Beef (or other protein of your choice)
3 3/4 Cups Chicken Broth
Chives or Radish Sprout (garnish)
Preheat the oven to 475°F (245°C).
Roast the bell peppers, onion, and garlic (each individually wrapped in foil or parchment paper) along with the tomatoes on a baking tray for approximately 20 minutes at 475° until tender and slightly charred. Remove foil and allow them to cool.
In a blender, blend the cooled vegetables until smooth.
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until they become translucent and slightly golden. Add Chorizo and diced sausage.
Add the blended puree to the pot with the sautéed onions.
Season the sauce with curry powder, thyme, bay leaf, dried chili pepper, and salt (to taste), and simmer for approximately 3 to 5 minutes.
Season Chicken with curry, thyme and salt. Then roast in the oven w for about 30 min.
Add Rice + Protein:
Add rice and chicken broth to the pot, ensuring rice is fully covered.
Add seasoned and sautéed protein of choice. (I used chicken and added lobster tail for the last 15 minutes.)
Bake Jollof Rice:
Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven to bake until the rice is fully cooked and tender – about 30 minutes at 475°. Check to ensure the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is fluffy.
Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before fluffing it with a fork.
Garnish with finely chopped parsley, chives, or radish sprouts and serve.
A Place at the Table
This recipe fills me with memories and gratitude and joy. It literally inspired me to set a beautiful tablescape worthy of such a bounty of goodness. I set out the beautiful African pattern linens I designed myself, created a sculptural centerpiece with a pitcher of fresh flowers, and lit some candles to pull the mood all together. (Unscented, so as not to distract from the appetizing aromatics.) The striking blues created a stunning contrast with the warm tones and made the whole meal a moment worth sharing.