Traditional recipes

Ghana: Jamie’s Jollof rice recipe

Ghana: Jamie’s 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

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.

For more countries from Jamie’s Foodie World Cup, click here.


Jollof Dry Spice Mix Recipe

Jollof Dry Spice Mix Recipe. Makes 1 3/4 cups. What is jollof seasoning and what is jollof rice? This can be answered by many different people from the countries of Ghana, Gambia, Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Togo and Mali. Jollof rice is traditionally served at parties, celebrations and gatherings where ever you find African descendants around the world. Each country has their own take on the method. This particular recipe is a combination of spices from the restaurateur Zoe Adjonyoh of Ghanaian heritage, west Africa. It is an excerpted from Zoe's book called Zoe's Ghana Kitchen which you can buy and features on the website oprah.com. Here is how to make Jollof dry spice mix recipe. Enjoy and for more jollof rice recipes visit our cooking recipe pages. Here you will find chicken and jollof rice, other ghanaian spice mixes and jollof rice with chicken and plantain.

Buy from Amazon Zoe's Ghana Kitchen Traditional Ghanaian recipes re-mixed for the modern kitchen


Africans reject Jamie's Jollof rice recipe

If there's one thing West Africans don't want you messing with, it's their Jollof rice. Or at least that's how it seems from the online reaction to Jamie Oliver's recipe for the dish.

Here's how to think about Jollof rice: it means to West African nations what paella means to the Spanish, what fish and chips means to Brits or what burritos mean to Mexicans. The traditional dish is made with tomatoes and spices and it's widely considered part of the heart and soul of the region. So when British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver published his own "interpretation" of the dish on his website, there was always the potential for controversy.

His recipe was posted in June and went largely unnoticed for months - until this week. The reaction from Africans began with dozens of comments posted on the chef's website in the past week. The conversation then moved on to social media where it escalated. The Oliver recipe has attracted 4,500 comments, a large number of them seemingly from Africans - and many outraged at what they say are changes Oliver has made to the traditional recipe. In the past 24 hours Twitter joined the debate using hashtags like #jollofgate and #jollof.

Oliver is known for his quick, simple dishes, but it seems that with his Jollof rice recipe his sin was trying too hard. He uses coriander, parsley and a lemon wedge, ingredients that users online say are not usually associated with the recipe. But what really offended them was the 600 grams of cherry tomatoes "on the vine". Jollof rice is popularly made from using a mix of blended, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and scotch bonnet. "This is the base," says Lohi, a Nigerian food blogger. "Jamie's recipe called for whole vegetables!"

"People were surprised that this recipe was so much different from the original," says the author of the Motley Musings blog, which writes about how Africa is represented in popular culture. She warns that people in Africa take their traditional food very seriously, although Oliver does stress in his recipe that he's aware of and has considered the many traditional variations of the dish and has "come up with his own kind of rice".

By creating this recipe Oliver has increased the exposure of the dish. Vera Kwakofi, from BBC Africa, says that's part of the problem: "The danger is that in five years his version will become the official one." The blogger behind Motley Musing agrees: "We have to ask ourselves who actually benefits from Jamie Oliver's ɺppreciation' of Jollof rice. This doesn't necessarily translate into value for Africans. For so long, different African cultures have been appropriated without any direct benefit to Africans themselves, and people are particularly sensitive to this."

This is not the first time social media users have targeted a Jollof recipe. Last June the supermarket chain Tesco removed its Jollof rice recipe from its website after complaints on Twitter said it had nothing to do with the real thing. A spokesperson for Jamie Oliver told BBC Trending: "Obviously there was no intention to offend anyone which is why the recipe printed on the Jamie Magazine website is described as 'Jamie's twist' on jollof rice."


History of jollof rice in Ghana and nutritional value

Jollof rice Ghana is a traditional meal. Its name originally comes from the word Wolof, which refers to an ethnic group from Senegal, southern Mauritania, and The Gambia. The dish is now among the most popular African cuisines in Africa and the rest of the world. It can be served with different dressings according to anyone’s popular taste.

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The main ingredients of the dish are rice and tomatoes. The meat depends on what you prefer or where you are taking it from. For example, the coastal regions of Ghana prefer to serve it with fish, while the interior areas will serve it with meat.

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Primary nutrients in jollof are carbohydrates and protein. These carbohydrates are from rice while the proteins are derived from the cut of meat that you have decided to go for. Tomatoes and vegetables contribute a range of minerals that are useful to the body.

Jollof rice is one of the healthiest dishes in Africa. This partly attributed to the fact that it doesn’t require a lot of cooking oil to prepare. With the traditional jollof rice Ghana recipe above, you should find it easy to make the meal. Your loved ones will appreciate you more the moment when you spare some time to prepare for them nutritious and delicious rice.


Jollof rice is the ultimate one-pot chicken dinner

Once inside, I caught the unmistakable scent of steaming rice that I associate with home. But laid over that aroma was sizzled chicken fat, browned onion, and saucy tomato. Adjoa handed me a deep bowl of crimson rice studded with spicy chicken and peppers, then opened a jar on the kitchen table and forked out a few pickled peppers on top.

She told me it was Ghanaian jollof rice — not Nigerian jollof rice (which is often all vegetable), or Senegalese (which often contains seafood) — and that her country’s was the best.

Despite her confidence in Ghana’s jollof, she confided, “I still want to make mine better.” I couldn’t imagine it more delicious, but I needed to know what could possibly improve. She told me her fiance, who had moved to Dallas to study dentistry, said American supermarkets sell chicken without bones — and that was her dream ingredient.

As someone whose favorite chicken part is the nubby cartilage ends of bones, I questioned our burgeoning friendship. But Adjoa detailed her endless experiments with cooking bone-in chicken without overcooking the rice and I knew we were kindred spirits, not only in our aversion to mushy rice but in our excitement for getting a recipe just right.

I tried re-creating Adjoa’s recipe with bone-in chicken, but her intuition was right. The rice arrives at the ideal tenderness right when boneless chicken thighs transition from unpleasant pinkness to juicy goodness.

I can’t speak to whether this is better than any other take on jollof rice, but I know it’s my favorite because its technique is on point and because it tastes like a warm welcome into someone’s home.


DVees take on Jamie Oliver’s Jollof Rice recipe

We are taking a different approach to the #jollofgate scandal….. by trying Jamie’s recipe step by step.

To be honest we can’t believe the uproar over the Jollof Rice recipe– it is clear that it is Jamie Oliver’s twist on West African Jollof Rice, he didn’t call it authentic jollof rice… don’t even think anyone really has the authentic Jollof rice recipe as with all recipes it has evolved and has passed down from generation to generation. Traditional Jollof uses palm oil and crayfish, the Senegalese add all sorts of meats and vegetables. Long grain rice is typically used but nowadays people use basmati for their jollof. At Dvees sometimes we cook ‘typical’ jollof which is long grain rice cooked in a tomato pepper base, sometimes we add coconut cream or add chargrilled roasted vegetables, with garlic prawns and smoked chicken.

We love contemporary Nigerian cuisine our signature is ethnic cuisine with a twist. For example, our afrotea is the classic English afternoon tea with a West African twist, perhaps we should expect a backlash and lots of abominable comments from the English for daring to go there.

West African food is the least experienced in the world so if Jamie Oliver decides to put a twist on Jollof rice and publish his recipe…we are still perplexed as to why this is sacrilege but first let’s critically assess Jamie’s Jollof Rice recipe:

Imposter ingredients:

  1. 1 tsp ground coriander – [DVees: acceptable as just used to season the chicken]
  2. 1 tsp ground white pepper – [DVees: acceptable as just used to season chicken]
  3. 600g cherry tomatoes, on the vine – [DVees: not typical but used to garnish rice]
  4. A bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped, stalks finely chopped – [DVees: not typical. Parsley is a herb that is widely used as a garnish or used to flavor stews, vegetable, chicken, fish and meats dishes in Mediterranean and Middle eastern cuisine]
  5. 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve – [DVees: not typical at all. “Lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over ”, for garnishing maybe, not sure we would be squeezing lemon juice over our beloved Jollof, possibly on the chicken :)]

Ingredients proportion:

  1. Garlic – we would typically use 1 clove or no garlic at all compared to the 6 cloves that is used in Jamie’s recipe.
  2. Onions – we would typically probably use 2 onions compared to the 4 onions that is used in Jamie’s recipe.
  3. Peppers – we would use double the amount of scotch bonnet peppers that Jamie uses and add a red bell pepper (tatashe).

Cooking process:

  • A key deviation is that he does not blend the vine-ripe tomatoes with the scotch bonnet chilli and onions which means that the rice is not cooked in a tomato pepper base and resembles Spanish tomato rice instead.
  • Also Jollof rice is typically seasoned with salt, bay leaves, thyme and curry. And lots of stock cubes, we personally think West Africans need to wean themselves off stock cubes loaded with MSG however this is a story for another day.

Taste: The rice has a wonderful rich flavor. This is amazing considering that salt, ‘maggi’ or ‘Knorr’ stock cubes are not used to season the rice. The beautiful aroma and flavor are as a result of the lashings of garlic, onions, parsley stalks sautéed before the tomatoes and rice are added to be cooked in the saucepan. Cooking juices from the chicken and parsley leaves also add deep flavor.

Verdict: In essence there are two ingredients that are real imposters: parsley and lemon. The proportions of tomato, onions and garlic are atypical and the rice is not cooked in a tomato pepper base however it is an excellent twist to Jollof rice. It does not taste like typical Jollof, but it is what it is, a twist to West African jollof: a delightful version that tastes like fresh Garlic & Herb Tomato Rice & Chicken. West African food is rich, captivating, bursting with spice and flavor and alien to the rest of the world, Jamie’s recipe has triggered conversation…. so lets live and let live.

Our love affair with food has always been partial to contemporary Nigerian food hence our tag line ‘Shakara Cuisine’, which is probably why we are camp #indefenceofjamieoliver.

We look forward to more food conversations with other Africans and the rest of the world.


Recipe's preparation

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Tag: jamie oliver jollof rice

We are taking a different approach to the #jollofgate scandal….. by trying Jamie’s recipe step by step.

To be honest we can’t believe the uproar over the Jollof Rice recipe– it is clear that it is Jamie Oliver’s twist on West African Jollof Rice, he didn’t call it authentic jollof rice… don’t even think anyone really has the authentic Jollof rice recipe as with all recipes it has evolved and has passed down from generation to generation. Traditional Jollof uses palm oil and crayfish, the Senegalese add all sorts of meats and vegetables. Long grain rice is typically used but nowadays people use basmati for their jollof. At Dvees sometimes we cook ‘typical’ jollof which is long grain rice cooked in a tomato pepper base, sometimes we add coconut cream or add chargrilled roasted vegetables, with garlic prawns and smoked chicken.

We love contemporary Nigerian cuisine our signature is ethnic cuisine with a twist. For example, our afrotea is the classic English afternoon tea with a West African twist, perhaps we should expect a backlash and lots of abominable comments from the English for daring to go there.

West African food is the least experienced in the world so if Jamie Oliver decides to put a twist on Jollof rice and publish his recipe…we are still perplexed as to why this is sacrilege but first let’s critically assess Jamie’s Jollof Rice recipe:

Imposter ingredients:

  1. 1 tsp ground coriander – [DVees: acceptable as just used to season the chicken]
  2. 1 tsp ground white pepper – [DVees: acceptable as just used to season chicken]
  3. 600g cherry tomatoes, on the vine – [DVees: not typical but used to garnish rice]
  4. A bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped, stalks finely chopped – [DVees: not typical. Parsley is a herb that is widely used as a garnish or used to flavor stews, vegetable, chicken, fish and meats dishes in Mediterranean and Middle eastern cuisine]
  5. 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve – [DVees: not typical at all. “Lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over ”, for garnishing maybe, not sure we would be squeezing lemon juice over our beloved Jollof, possibly on the chicken :)]

Ingredients proportion:

  1. Garlic – we would typically use 1 clove or no garlic at all compared to the 6 cloves that is used in Jamie’s recipe.
  2. Onions – we would typically probably use 2 onions compared to the 4 onions that is used in Jamie’s recipe.
  3. Peppers – we would use double the amount of scotch bonnet peppers that Jamie uses and add a red bell pepper (tatashe).

Cooking process:

  • A key deviation is that he does not blend the vine-ripe tomatoes with the scotch bonnet chilli and onions which means that the rice is not cooked in a tomato pepper base and resembles Spanish tomato rice instead.
  • Also Jollof rice is typically seasoned with salt, bay leaves, thyme and curry. And lots of stock cubes, we personally think West Africans need to wean themselves off stock cubes loaded with MSG however this is a story for another day.

Taste: The rice has a wonderful rich flavor. This is amazing considering that salt, ‘maggi’ or ‘Knorr’ stock cubes are not used to season the rice. The beautiful aroma and flavor are as a result of the lashings of garlic, onions, parsley stalks sautéed before the tomatoes and rice are added to be cooked in the saucepan. Cooking juices from the chicken and parsley leaves also add deep flavor.

Verdict: In essence there are two ingredients that are real imposters: parsley and lemon. The proportions of tomato, onions and garlic are atypical and the rice is not cooked in a tomato pepper base however it is an excellent twist to Jollof rice. It does not taste like typical Jollof, but it is what it is, a twist to West African jollof: a delightful version that tastes like fresh Garlic & Herb Tomato Rice & Chicken. West African food is rich, captivating, bursting with spice and flavor and alien to the rest of the world, Jamie’s recipe has triggered conversation…. so lets live and let live.

Our love affair with food has always been partial to contemporary Nigerian food hence our tag line ‘Shakara Cuisine’, which is probably why we are camp #indefenceofjamieoliver.

We look forward to more food conversations with other Africans and the rest of the world.


2 thoughts on &ldquo Recipe: “Ghanaian” Jollof rice &rdquo

This looks great! And I’m so happy I found your blog- I’ve never heard of anyone else who was vegetarian and gluten-free. I was wondering what other advice you were given about eating in Ghana- I am going to Tanzania for a study abroad trip and am a bit concerned about my culinary fate.

Hey Ray, I’m glad that you’ve found the blog helpful! I was really worried about finding gluten-free vegetarian food to eat in Ghana, so before I went I did extensive research – I scouted out lots of websites. I also talked with friends from Ghana, and asked the name of local dishes they thought would be OK for me to eat (for example, one friend told me that “red red” is a Ghanaian dish with spicy beans and fried plantains, and I knew anytime I saw it on the menu, I could eat it.) I also packed a whole bunch of gluten free breakfast bars with me before I left, because I was worried about finding good gluten free breakfast snacks to eat with my daily malaria meds (if you swallow them on an empty stomach, you’ll feel terrible!) Once I got to Ghana, I scouted out all the local shops to see what might work, and stocked up on supplies – peanuts, nuts, potato chips, groundnut butter. There was incredible fruit in the town I was living in (bananas, mango, pineapple), so I bought cleaning supplies, a knife, and tupperware, and would make fruit salad to snack on daily. For breakfast everyday, I ended up eating bananas with groundnut butter. For other meals (lunch and dinner), I went to local restaurants and mainly had rice and some variation of fried eggs (pretty boring, but acceptable!) There are a lot of dishes in Ghana made out of plantains and yams, which were also very good, but it was hard for me to find them in local restaurants – I sought them out on weekends. I found that vegetables weren’t a big component of the local diet in the town I was in, which was one of the reasons why I thought it was so important to fill up on fresh fruit to get nutrients. As someone who has always suffered from stomach problems, I was also pretty OCD about hygiene when I was in Ghana – I didn’t eat at stalls that didn’t look clean, and I avoided uncooked vegetables. The greatest challenge was having to eat out so often – I didn’t have access to a kitchen, so it was more challenging than usual to make sure I got enough to eat. I hope some of that is helpful! Let me know if you have any questions!


  • 2 pounds cooked meat, cut into 1-inch cubes (use chicken, bacon, shrimp, or smoked pork)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, yellow (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup green peppers (finely chopped)
  • ground ginger (1/2 teaspoon, optional)
  • 1 can whole tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
  • 2 cans tomato paste (6 ounces each) (low-sodium)
  • 8 cups water (2 quarts)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups white rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth, reduced sodium
  • 2 1/2 cups water

1. Sauté cooked meat in oil until slightly brown.
2. In a large kettle, sauté yellow onion, green pepper, and ginger in vegetable oil until onions are soft.
3. Add whole tomatoes and simmer for five minutes.
4. Add tomato paste, 2 quarts water, salt, black pepper, thyme, and red pepper.
5. Add cooked meat, simmer 20 minutes longer.
6. In a 2-quart saucepan, cook rice in 5 cups of chicken stock and water until tender.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
8. Pour the rice in a deep bowl and arrange the meat in the center.


Africans reject Jamie's Jollof rice recipe

If there's one thing West Africans don't want you messing with, it's their Jollof rice. Or at least that's how it seems from the online reaction to Jamie Oliver's recipe for the dish.

Here's how to think about Jollof rice: it means to West African nations what paella means to the Spanish, what fish and chips means to Brits or what burritos mean to Mexicans. The traditional dish is made with tomatoes and spices and it's widely considered part of the heart and soul of the region. So when British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver published his own "interpretation" of the dish on his website, there was always the potential for controversy.

His recipe was posted in June and went largely unnoticed for months - until this week. The reaction from Africans began with dozens of comments posted on the chef's website in the past week. The conversation then moved on to social media where it escalated. The Oliver recipe has attracted 4,500 comments, a large number of them seemingly from Africans - and many outraged at what they say are changes Oliver has made to the traditional recipe. In the past 24 hours Twitter joined the debate using hashtags like #jollofgate and #jollof.

Oliver is known for his quick, simple dishes, but it seems that with his Jollof rice recipe his sin was trying too hard. He uses coriander, parsley and a lemon wedge, ingredients that users online say are not usually associated with the recipe. But what really offended them was the 600 grams of cherry tomatoes "on the vine". Jollof rice is popularly made from using a mix of blended, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and scotch bonnet. "This is the base," says Lohi, a Nigerian food blogger. "Jamie's recipe called for whole vegetables!"

"People were surprised that this recipe was so much different from the original," says the author of the Motley Musings blog, which writes about how Africa is represented in popular culture. She warns that people in Africa take their traditional food very seriously, although Oliver does stress in his recipe that he's aware of and has considered the many traditional variations of the dish and has "come up with his own kind of rice".

By creating this recipe Oliver has increased the exposure of the dish. Vera Kwakofi, from BBC Africa, says that's part of the problem: "The danger is that in five years his version will become the official one." The blogger behind Motley Musing agrees: "We have to ask ourselves who actually benefits from Jamie Oliver's ɺppreciation' of Jollof rice. This doesn't necessarily translate into value for Africans. For so long, different African cultures have been appropriated without any direct benefit to Africans themselves, and people are particularly sensitive to this."

This is not the first time social media users have targeted a Jollof recipe. Last June the supermarket chain Tesco removed its Jollof rice recipe from its website after complaints on Twitter said it had nothing to do with the real thing. A spokesperson for Jamie Oliver told BBC Trending: "Obviously there was no intention to offend anyone which is why the recipe printed on the Jamie Magazine website is described as 'Jamie's twist' on jollof rice."


Watch the video: How To Cook Perfect Party Jollof Rice: Tips for Smoky Nigerian Party Jollof Rice (January 2022).