Jollof rice is a staple of cooking in countries along the West African coast:  everyone has their own recipe, every nationality makes it slightly differently, and there’s even some amount of rivalry about which country makes the best and most authentic jollof rice.  Immigration has now spread jollof rice around the world – in fact, we got our first taste of it in Harlem, at a Senegalese restaurant.  There’s plenty of variations among the different versions of this dish, but at its heart jollof rice gets its signature flavor from a combination of tomatoes and spicy peppers.  It’s also typically made with some kind of chicken or beef, but we came up with our own version which has vegetables instead – and when you take the meat out, jollof rice becomes vegan.  So here’s our vegetarian-friendly version of this amazingly delicious take on rice.

To make it, you’ll need:

  • 2 onions
  • Tomato paste
  • 2 Massel 7s Chicken Style bouillon cubes
  • Basmati rice
  • A red bell pepper
  • A yellow bell pepper
  • An orange bell pepper
  • A large handful of okra
  • Garlic
  • 5 plum tomatoes
  • A Scotch bonnet pepper

First, take your tomatoes and your red bell pepper and roughly cut them up into large pieces.  Then slice up one of your onions and place it with the rest of the vegetables into a blender, along with 2 garlic cloves and your Scotch bonnet pepper.


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Blend everything together until your have a smooth, liquid mixture.




In a large stock pot, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Dice up your other onion and sauté it in the pot for about 5 minutes, until it just becomes soft.  Mix in 3 tablespoons of tomato paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes.




Then add in the tomato-pepper-onion mixture, along with your 2 Massel 7’s bouillon cubes dissolved in a cup of boiling water.  Bring all of this to a boil and then simmer it for 15 minutes.




Meanwhile, slice your yellow and orange bell peppers into bite-sized pieces and cut your okra in half.  In a large pan, cook these veggies in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until they’re tender.




Once the mixture in the stock pot has finished simmering, measure out 3 cups of rice and rinse it in a mesh sieve, then pour it into the pot.




Simmer the rice for 20 minutes, then mix in your peppers and okra and cook everything for another 10 minutes.


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Your jollof will be done when the rice is tender and the vegetables are softened.




Then you can serve your jollof rice and eat it!




This is a really tasty take on rice and vegetables:  cooking the rice in this tomato-based liquid really bakes in some great flavors, and the Scotch bonnet pepper adds a nice heat.  Plus, the bell peppers and okra are a great substitute for the meat you might usually find in jollof rice.  We don’t know where on the spectrum of different countries’ jollof rice recipes ours would fit, but we liked it well enough and we think it’s a good vegetarian and vegan version of this West African staple.