jollof rice recipe

It’s amazing how food can tell a story – how traces of it can be found throughout a continent, showing the diaspora of people and the spread of cultures across thousands of miles.

Jollof rice is more of a concept than a recipe, because it’s found in various guises all over West Africa. Its other name is Benachin, which means “one pot” in the language of the Wolof people who invented it – evidently throwing lots of lovely food in a pan and letting the heat do its thing has always been a popular cheat.

The Wolof ruled an empire from what is now known as Senegal between 1360 to 1549. For a while they were a powerful and wealthy kingdom, even trading with Europe before it fell apart through infighting among the different states. By the time it disintegrated though, its travels, trades and conquests had spread its people and cultures right throughout the area. So it’s no surprise that Jollof rice springs up in the list of favourite dishes for Ghana, about 2,000km from their homeland in Senegal. In fact, it springs up all even further east, in countries such as Nigeria and Cameroon. Because of this distance, and all the differences in culture and climate, the ingredients vary wildly, but the principle is that you cook your rice in a tomato sauce, so it soaks up all the flavours.

As with all simple recipes, the devil is in the detail. So use the best ingredients you can afford, make sure you use long grain rice so it doesn’t go stodgy, and remember that the secret to great Jollof rice is investing in the flavours of the sauce. Some nations use coconut milk, others nutmeg or other earthy spices, some use partminger (an African basil leaf) and some even use Rooibos tea. Jamie has taken all these variations to heart and come up with his own kind of rice. It’s got lots of European twists in it to make it his own. That said, in Ghana it’s usually cooked using chicken and plenty of spice, so Jamie’s used chicken and 500g of seriously sweet roast tomatoes to give the rice that killer flavour – and a whole scotch bonnet chilli too, of course.

Mind you, the word Ghana means “warrior king”, so they can probably stand the heat.

Jamie’s twist on a Jollof rice recipe

Serves 6

ghana jollof rice

8 chicken thighs
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground white pepper
Vegetable oil
600g cherry tomatoes, on the vine
4 onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, sliced
½ –1 scotch bonnet chilli, deseeded and chopped
A bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped, stalks finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato purée
500g vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
750ml chicken stock
500g long grain rice
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. In a bowl, toss the chicken thighs with the ground coriander, white pepper and a pinch of salt. Add a glug of oil to a large saucepan and fry the chicken over a medium heat for 7–8 minutes, until browned all over. Transfer the chicken to a medium-sized roasting pan and cook in the oven for 30–40 minutes, until golden, adding the cherry tomatoes to the pan halfway through.

Meanwhile, using the same pan you browned the chicken in, add a splash of oil and sauté the onions, garlic, chilli and parsley stalks over a low heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée and chopped tomatoes, then pour in the chicken stock. Bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, pop the lid on and let it bubble away for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding water if it gets too dry. Finally, stir in the parsley leaves followed by the cooking juices and cherry tomatoes (discarding the stalk) from the roasting pan. Mix well, squashing the tomatoes into the rice.

Serve the rice with the chicken pieces on top and lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over.

This recipe comes courtesy of Jamie Magazine, our gorgeous monthly mag full of recipes and travel writing from Jamie and the best chefs and writers in the world. For 50% off a year’s subscription, click here.

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ghana cuisine, jollof rice

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  • Guest

    What is hell is this. I am a west african woman and I find this extremely offensive. You have taken years of my west african culture and slaughter it with your makeshift recipe. Bye

    • GeeMoeNettie

      Hahaha! I was thinking the same thing!

    • HisMercy

      My people. Let’s CALM DOWN over this rice recipe, and just be happy that our beloved jollof got a little shine! haha! :) I’m reading these comments and seriously laughing! People are invoking their dead ancestors, and words like “bastardize” are being thrown around. lol. Let’s relax…it’s just rice.

      • PM


  • Eastleigh Saint

    Easy off. Learn to share. Maybe you can put up your version. as the article says. the recipe is not owned by one person. everybody has a variation

  • sugzshay

    No no no this is joll- NOT rice. For shame. My ancestors did not die for this nonsense. First Marco Pierre white with his nonsense ‘rice and peas’ now this?

    What next pounded yam made with SMASH. -_-

  • COG

    I think any attempt to try and cook another country’s dish is a great attempt – I know for sure my Green Thai Curry sauce does not taste exactly like Busaba’s but there are some slight errors in this and sadly you’re not getting the best of this dish. Can I offer to show you how we cook it in Ghana, perhaps cook it our way so you can taste it?! Well done for trying though!

  • Qameel

    My dear Sir, this(whatever this is) is ABSOLUTELY NOT Jollof Rice…you can call it “rice cooked in chicken broth” or something but definitely NOT Jollof Rice. Don’t use your limited (more like NON-EXISTENT)knowledge of a people’s culture to bastardize their food and then proceed to slap their name on it. It is just not done….

  • peaches

    Well he said he was “inspired” by jollof, and its many variations.. so this is Jamie’s Jollof as opposed to.. ahem.. REAL
    I admire him for trying. Too many established chefs have a superiority complex about african cusinine. They assume only french school or italian school of cooking can be fine dining.
    But Jamie coulda come see my mama first.. lol

  • jamieoliverdotcom

    This is Jamie’s twist on Jollof rice, which as it says it the feature can differ from nation to nation, “some using coconut milk, others nutmeg or other earthy spices, some use partminger (an African basil leaf) and some even use Rooibos tea” Lots of Jamie’s recipes are inspired by traditional recipes but with his own twist and style. This is his interpretation of brilliant and well-loved recipe. Let us know what you put in yours!

    • Kwabena Nucky Boateng

      Ah well its his take on it. Doesnt look good though… For more
      inspiration or if you love African food or Ghana Food check me out on
      Instagram @TasteGhana am a food blogger

    • Adaukwu

      Nutmeg gini!! Which kind place uses NUTMEG in jollof. Sir, just admit your mess up and rename this thing. Nonsense rubbish

    • Amena Imasekha

      Fantastic. Coconut Milk sounds so interesting. :-)

  • Obie Akpachiogu

    Come on guys! He was only kidding!

  • Pookie_sama

    KEYWORD: INSPIRED!!!!!! He never said it WAS Jollof rice.

  • kuks

    so I saw this .. thought was really cool… dressed up ready to cook and read it… :(

  • Daniel Asamoah

    I like this. Like the fact that little research was done an added to the article. There are many different variations but the main jist is Rice soaked by a tomato sauce. We hate Long grain rice and use Thai rice. It’s tricky to use but brings out the best flavours. Truss me.

  • Sandra

    I am liking the twist on Jollof rice that Jamie has done, but i would love to invite him round to taste the Authentic Ghanaian way of making this dish. let me know if our up for it Jamie Oliver. Its really nice to see that African food is getting out there.

  • kwame

    no maggi cube? or?? lol

  • fififlowerpots

    Please don’t appropriate my culture to sell your wares. Why don’t you
    give some space for the up and coming African chefs, many of them
    Ghanaians, to put this recipe out there for the masses and get
    themselves some exposure in the process.

  • ualacs

    interesting that my previous comment wasn’t approved. Is there a reason for this?… And I agree with the maggie cube comment!!

  • ewucanbeer

    Please it is not just rice!

  • Kwabena Nucky Boateng

    Ah well its his take on it. Doesnt look good though… For more inspiration or if you love African food or Ghana Food check me out on Instagram @TasteGhana

  • sheeposaurus1 .

    It’s his version of the recipe. He has versions of every culture’s recipes… It’s not like the Jamie’s Italian restaurants sell traditional italian food, they sell his versions of the dishes.


    I respect you for attempting this very complex dish. But with all due respect where is the meat on that chicken?




    absolute nonsense



  • Amena Imasekha

    Jollof Rice is one of my favourite Nigerian dishes and this is a great take on it. The first thing I thought when I saw this is WOW this looks amazing. Consequently, I’ll be making this dish soon.

  • jAyajade

    Nice!! interesting twist…. this Nigerian will be trying this soon. :)