Jollof, also called ‘Benachin’ meaning one pot in the Jollof language, is
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a popular dish all over West Africa. Its base consists of rice, tomatoes
and tomato paste, onion, salt, and chili pepper, to which optional
ingredients can be added such as vegetables, meats, and other spices.
The cooking method is to use groundnut oil to fry the finely-chopped
onion, tomatoes and ground pepper (plus any other optional ground
or chopped spices), and then to add stock and to cook the rice in this
mixture so it takes up all the liquid. The rice takes on a characteristic
red colour from the mixture. It can be served with cooked meat,
chicken, fish or vegetables separately on the plate or they can be
stirred in at the end. It is often served with fried plantain and salad.
Optional ingredients can include garlic, peas, thyme, African nutmeg,
tea-bush leaves, partminger (a herb of the basil family), curry powder.
There are many variations on Jollof rice throughout West Africa. Many
nations there including Ghana and Nigeria lay claim to it. Jollof rice is
also the traditional dish of the Jollof tribe in the Senegambia region.
One often hears that Jollof Rice (or Jolof Rice, Djolof Rice) is a Nigerian
dish; indeed it is often made by Nigerians. However, it has its origins
among the Wolof people of Senegal and Gambia who make a rice and
fish dish they call Ceebu Jën. Since Nigeria has the largest population
of any African country, it’s safe to say that most of the people who
make and eat Jollof Rice are probably Nigerian.
There are many variations of Jollof Rice. The most common basic
ingredients are: rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, onion, salt, and red
pepper. Beyond that, nearly any kind of meat, fish, vegetable, or spice
can be added.
* Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Stir-fry the chicken (or
beef) in the oil until it is browned on all sides. Remove the meat from
the oil and set aside. Add the onions, the salt, pepper, cayenne
pepper, and one or two of the flavoring add-ins (if desired) to the
skillet and fry the mixture until the onions begin to become tender.
Remove the onion mixture from the skillet and set aside with the
* In a dutch oven or large covered saucepan, bring the broth and two
cups of water to a simmer. Place the meat and onion mixture into the
dutch oven and cover.
* In the same skillet used for the meat and onions, stir-fry the
tomatoes and one or two of the vegetable add-ins. Continue frying the
mixture until the vegetables are partly cooked, then add them to the
meat, onions, and broth in the dutch oven.
* Again in the same skillet, combine the rice and the tomato paste.
Over low heat, stir until the rice is evenly coated with the tomato
paste. The rice should end up a pink-orange color. Add the rice to the
dutch oven and stir gently.
* Cover the dutch oven and cook the mixture over a low heat until the
rice is done and the vegetables are tender (maybe half an hour). Stir
gently occasionally and check to see that the bottom of the pot does
not become completely dry. Add warm water or broth (a quarter cup at
a time) as necessary to help rice cook. Adjust seasoning as needed. If
desired, add one of the meat add-ins while the dish is cooking.
(Shrimp cook very quickly and should not be over-cooked or they will
become tough; ham can be added at any time.)
* Serve with one or two of the garnishes.
* Serve Ginger Beer or Green Tea with Mint with or after the meal.
* oil for frying
* one chicken (and/or a pound or two of stew meat), chopped into
* one or two onions, finely chopped
* salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper (to taste)
* Flavoring add-ins (to taste)
* chile pepper, chopped
* garlic o thyme
* bay leaf
* curry powder
* two cups chicken broth or chicken stock, or beef broth or beef stock
(or Maggi® cubes and water)
* two or three ripe tomatoes, chopped
* Vegetable add-ins
* sweet green pepper (or bell pepper), chopped
* string beans or green beans
* green peas
* carrots, chopped
* cabbage, chopped
* four cups rice
* one small can tomato paste
* Meat add-ins
* cooked ham
* shrimp or prawns (or dried shrimp or dried prawns)
* fresh parsley, chopped
* cilantro, chopped
* lettuce, shredded
* hard-boiled egg, sliced
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