My first attempt at Nigerian Jollof Rice

Jollof rice, also called 'Benachin' meaning on...

Jollof rice, also called ‘Benachin’ meaning one pot in the Jollof language, is a popular dish all over West Africa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You may be wondering if my family have been here 11.5 months, why am I only now cooking Jollof Rice.  It goes like this – my family arrived without any recipes.  I Googled Nigerian food and found lots, but none of it was food the children were familiar with: different ethnicities.  I kept saying “Get me recipes and I will cook!”  We do make Ata sauce and a variant with silver beet.

About a week ago, Mr O Jnr 1 asked, “What is a recipe?”

It had never occurred to me no-one knew what I meant by recipe.

So back to Google.  This time I found some recipes everyone went “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH, YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS” at, so I printed them out and surprisingly all I needed to buy for this recipe was bay leaves.  I normally have bay leaves for Italian dishes, I was just out of them right now.

The picture to the right is NOT mine, but it looks as if it has prawns in it, which is a variation I could try too.

Nigerian Jollof Rice

1 fryer chicken or 2 1/2 to 3 pounds meat, cut in pieces  – I used four large chicken breasts, given there are six of us
1 lime or lemon, cut in half
Salt to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup water
2 tomatoes, peeled
2 onions
4 red bell peppers
1/2 cup peanut oil  – as Mr O is allergic to peanuts, I substituted virgin olive oil
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper (I believe they meant chilli) or 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 1/2 cups rice

6 servings – in my house?? I think not, so I made it 2 cups of rice. The recipe says “Nigerian cooks often allow as much as 1 cup of uncooked rice per person” but I didn’t go that far.


Peppers, tomatoes and onion

Rub meat or chicken pieces with cut sides of lime or lemon.  Season with salt and sprinkle with garlic.  Let marinate at least 1 hour.  Our probably marinated a little longer as I did a dash to the laundromat to do a bulk drying session of the weekly linen wash.  The garlic isn’t minced enough, but I don’t have a mincer – something to rectify!


Chicken marinating in garlic, salt and lemon

In a stewing pot, simmer chicken or meat with about 1 cup water until tender.  Drain, reserving stock.  Good grief – another pot!

Chicken simmering

Chicken simmering

Mince 1 tomato, 1 onion, and bell peppers.  I prepared these earlier, but it fits with the sequence here!

They are minced!

They are minced!

Heat oil in stewing pot and fry meat or chicken until golden.
Add minced vegetables, tomato sauce, and crushed red pepper or cayenne.
Stir in bay leaves and thyme.
Saute until vegetables are soft.

Nearly there

Nearly there – just the rice to go……

Add rice and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
Add reserved stock, slowly, stirring constantly.
Cover and cook over low heat until rice is almost soft, stirring occasionally to keep rice from sticking.
Slice remaining onion and tomato.

Sliced as per directions

Sliced as per directions

Add to rice and continue cooking over low heat, well covered, until rice is tender.
It may be necessary to add small amounts of boiling water to keep the rice from sticking.

Jollof Rice

Jollof Rice cooking away merrily

Mr O was impressed with just the smell!  He is not really a chicken fan, so wants it with lamb next time.  Mr O is a BIG lamb fan, so I understand that!

Miss O 2 said it didn’t look right and was too spicy.  Miss O 1 seemed to think it was alright.

Mr O Jnr 1 gave me 7.5 out of 10 and a “thumbs up” but Mr O Jnr 2 gave me 4 out of 10 for looks and 2 out of 10 for taste, so I am guessing chicken is not the best meat to use for this family.  Or he has just gotten too used to roast lamb and gravy with roast vegetables.

Nigerian Jollof Rice (Chicken)

Nigerian Jollof Rice (Chicken)

Thank you to Stella’s Yoruba Food Page!  The photos are mine, not Stella’s: I’d hate to give her a bad rep if it looks bad!  Hopefully I’ll get better scores next time.  :cry:

Pepper Chicken is next week, which will not be Mr O’s favourite either, being chicken again! :lol:

About Team Oyeniyi

We fought to be together as a team, we are now together as a team. Team Oyeniyi

32 comments on “My first attempt at Nigerian Jollof Rice

  1. […] GREAT! That is just about the list of staple foods around here!  The peppers (capsicum) and tomato based sauces with chilli. Take out the chocolate […]


  2. Don’t worry too much as it does take practice to get it right… and jollof rice is definitely drier. ;-)


    • Okay, I studied your ingredients and here are your culprits. Cut the bell pepper in half. (use less and I have done so with your other ingredients here). Saute all your veggies together in oil (ideally peanut or corn oil not olive oil) so use 1 large onion, 2 red bell peppers, 1/4 cup peanut or corn oil , 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce, 1 large fresh tomato chopped coarsely, 1 1/2 teaspoons hot cayenne pepper, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 teaspoon thyme. Saute your ingredients in the oil till they turn a deeper red shade, 10-15 mins on medium to low heat. Add your 2 cups of uncle Ben’s rice and your 1 cup of water, mix it all in nicely. Cook on medium, stiring occasionally not constantly. I increased your rice by half a cup and reduced your other ingredients by half. Jollof rice looks more like fried rice and not like paella. :-) Try this and lets see what happens… I might even use 1 bell pepper instead of two.


      • I read another recipe somewhere that spoke of the ratio of sauce to rice, and you seem to be confirming that too. So attempt three is definitely to cut the amount of liquid.

        The kids say more like fried rice too.

        I’ll get it right eventually.

        Thank you so much for the tips and your recipe! :D


    • I see you have other comments on both articles, so will respond there!


  3. […] to broaden our library of Nigerian recipies, some weeks ago I made my first attempt at cooking Jollof Rice. While it smelt and tasted authentic, the consistency wasn’t […]


  4. I would love to try this! My family loves rice and I try to find new ways to use it. As for the chicken, I’ll probably get some groans. Apparently, I cook chicken too often. Good luck next time with the lamb.


  5. Have fun experimenting with Nigerian recipes. Hope you get 10 out of 10 from everyone next time. :D


    • Gilly has pointed out maybe we need different rice. Miss O 1 says their rice is bigger grained, so perhaps it is a specific variety – but I don’t know yet. Something to investigate!


  6. That rice looks absolutely amazing, thanks for the inspiration


  7. It sounds delicious but looks more like risotto. What type of rice did you use, ‘Western’ rice doesn’t work with African recipes, are you able to buy the real thing? usually in big sacks.


    • We buy rice in 25 kilo sacks. We buy Indian rice as we have not found any “real thing” rice. :lol: What do you define as the real thing?

      Africans are not yet present in large enough numbers for importing of foodstuffs to be profitable, I think. For example, I think every Asian food ingredient would be available here now, but probably not early on.

      We can buy goat, but very expensive and Mr O prefers lamb anyway.


    • You know I hate risotto! :lol:


  8. Cooking can be such an adventure! Good for you. :)


  9. It looks good and I like all the ingredients, so I’ll try it using prawns as we get can get prawns fresh from the fishers at the docks.


  10. It looks good for your first try! We are big rice eaters in our house, and I cook a lot of risotto dishes using arborio rice because it leaves the rice moist. I will have to try this recipe!


  11. Looks pretty yummy to me! Kudos for trying!


  12. Looks good to me, but what do I know about Nigerian food. I can just about cook lasagne!


    • I make very good lasagne actually! I haven’t cooked it for my family yet though.

      I’m not good at absorption method of rice cooking, and basically this is absorption cooking.

      I know what I need to change for next time though.


  13. This looks delicious and a recipe I will def be cooking!


    • Thanks, Carole! Next time I will add chicken stock cubes, but I really think with my lot lamb will be better. Also kids say it should be drier, but I didn’t realize and kept adding water to STOP it being too dry.

      First time, all a learning exercise!


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