Recipe: Jollof (West African Rice with Veggies)

Serves 6-8

Listen, friends. I thought Jollof sounded weird. Scary. Difficult. It’s not. This is rice with veggies. And spices. Sometimes meat, but not here. Not today. All over West Africa people enjoy Jollof. They make it with whatever they have on hand and more often that not it does not include meat. This recipe is flexible. It’s usually spicy. And it always has some version of tomato sauce/paste in it. The rest is a fun improvisational dance. So, go on – boogie, boogie through that bottom drawer and pull out whatever veggies inspire you.


2 cups frozen green peas
vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp ginger (fresh grated or ground)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
15 oz can tomato sauce or puree
1 small head of cabbage, chopped
2 cups white rice
1 quart water or stock
salt and pepper, to taste


My boogie, boogie led me to peas, which is a fairly common addition to Jollof. So, first things first, set out the green peas to thaw.

Next, cook the garlic and onion in a medium/large pot with a bit of vegetable oil. When they are softened, toss on the spices and tomato sauce/puree.

Simmer the mixture until it goes from wet and saucy to thick and pasty. Stir often to prevent burning. You’ll know you’re done when the spoon leaves a line in the pan. and the tomatoes no longer “flow” like sauce.

Next, pile on the chopped cabbage. Stir and cook until weird and wilted. You’re making room for the rice.

Speaking of which, dump on the beautiful rice…

… and water or stock. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for twenty minutes or until the rice is tender.

Remove from heat, pour on the peas, and cover. Let steam for five minutes.

Fluff and serve to a beautiful child who likes spicy food. Or 15 children. Or 8 adults.

This recipe makes a lot of rice.

Isn’t that the most wonderfully easy dish?

When you take a bite you’ll taste a bit of cinnamon and a bit of cayenne.

Oh, and loads of yummy veggies.

Pretty great.

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  1. Love jollof!! Gorgeous photos (love the spices).

  2. Getting ready to try this tonight and the danged “print/pdf” button doesn’t work for me. Is it my computer?

    Love the photos, this will be a welcome change from my two usual rice dishes.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I’ll look into it – thanks for the heads up… :( On a brighter note, hope you enjoy the rice :)

  3. Sharisse Steber says:

    I just made this for dinner….Used fresh grated ginger instead. THIS IS SPECTACULAR! I had no idea this simple combination would taste so exotic!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Sharisse, you have no idea how sad I was when I realized I didn’t have fresh ginger when I made the jollof. It was one of those moments…. Ava asleep, I couldn’t go anywhere… trapped and with a limited amount of time to make the dish. It was fine with ground ginger, but I’m glad you were able to use the juicy, zingy fresh stuff. Hurrah :)

  4. Hi! This has a lot of similarities to Cuban Rice (aka “Moors and Christians”) that i’ve made for over 15 years now. Of course, Cuba and the whole Carribean has strong ties to West Africa, so that is not overly surprising. Differences are Cuban rice uses black beans, no cabbage, and achiote in place of the ginger and cinnamon. But the rice, garlic, onions, vegetables(=bell peppers), and tomato sauce and tomato paste are the same key ingredients. We just had some Cuban rice today, as a matter of fact! I will try it W.A. style nekst time with peas instead, but i don’t think i’m gonna be brave enough to put cinnamon in it!

  5. Love it – but for a more authentic taste – (I lived in West Africa for 3 1/2 years)- skip the cinnamon and ginger – use both black and red pepper – and plenty of salt – a boullion cube for those of you non-purists


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