Saturday, April 30, 2022

Jollof Rice (Ghana Style)

 This recipe for Ghanaian jollof rice brings you a brightly colored red/orange rice dish, with a wonderful spice and rich, spicy, and saucy meat.

PREP TIME5 minutes
TOTAL TIME1 hour 5 minutes


For the meat

For the rice

  • 4 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (habanero pepper)*, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato puree (tomato paste)
  • 6 large, fresh tomatoes or 1 and ½ cans of tomato, chopped
  • 1 seasoning cube/bouillon cube** (or salt to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 cups long grain rice (Thai jasmine)
  • 2 cups hot water or stock/broth**
  • ½ cup mixed carrots and peas (thawed if frozen or fresh)
  • A round of parchment paper that fits inside your cooking pot (see step 11)


For the meat

  1. Cut the lamb (or beef) into sizeable chunks.
  2. Create a paste by blending the ½ portion of onion and lamb seasoning in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle. Then, rub the paste on your meat pieces.
  3. If the meat is tough, simmer the meat and sauce paste until the meat is tender, then remove the pieces of meat and grill or fry them so the lamb pieces crisp up.
  4. If the meat is tender, it can go straight to the grill for cooking through. Set the cooked meat aside.

For the rice

  1. Rinse your rice and start some water boiling (for soaking the rice in step 7). (The rice is washed to remove excess starchiness, which can make the final dish gloopy or sticky.)
  2. To make the stew base, heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
  3. Fry the onions until golden brown. Add the garlic and ginger a few seconds before adding your tomato puree (tomato paste). Fry for just under a minute.
  4. Add the thyme and bouillon cube, followed by the tomatoes and scotch bonnet pepper.
  5. Cook the sauce for about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir continuously to make sure it is not burning at the bottom.
  6. Next, add all the meat and stir to coat it well in the sauce. Continue cooking the stew.
  7. While the tomato sauce is cooking, soak the rinsed rice in some boiled water until the stew base is ready.
  8. Once the stew is thick, with an oily film forming on the surface, remove half the meat stew from the pot and set it aside for serving. (This is a preference particular to Ghanaians, who will often eat jollof rice with additional stew on the side.)
  9. Strain the soaked rice and add it to the pot. Season to taste carefully.
  10. Top up the pot with enough water or broth. For those with an experienced eye for rice, this would normally be about 500ml (2 cups). (You may need to add more later if the rice is still hard.) Stir to mix, then bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat.
  11. Once simmering nicely and the moisture has nearly all gone, add the peas and carrots. Then cover with parchment paper right above the rice (to lock in moisture and add natural cooking pressure). Close with an airtight lid. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  12. Taste the rice. Once the grains are cooked it is ready.
  13. The bottom of the pot will have a layer of caramelized jollof with concentrated flavour. For those who want a smoky flavour, raise the heat back to high for a few minutes, and allow the bottom of the pot to toast. Take off the heat and your rice is smoky and ready to eat! Washing the pot will be interesting afterwards, but nothing a good soaking can’t fix.***


*Scotch bonnet peppers are quite spicy, which will give significant heat to this dish, as is traditional. If you prefer more medium or mild food, adjust the amount of scotch bonnet pepper according to your preferences. While not traditional, a 1/2 teaspoon of paprika could be substituted for each pepper for a (not spicy) version that is more accessible to spice-sensitive palates.

**If bouillon cubes are not available, they can be omitted. If doing so, be sure to use broth instead of water for best flavor and add salt to taste.

***To help clean the pot, boil some water in the empty pot. Then let the hot water stand in the pot for 20 minutes. Scraping the bottom occasionally. This typically works quite well for getting those bits un-stuck.