beef jollof rice

Nigerian Beef Jollof Rice

Last Updated on April 1, 2022

This spiced red rice is the most beloved rice dish across the coast of West Africa. Named after a 16th-century kingdom of Jolof in the Senegambian region (between the Senegal and Gambia rivers), legend has it that traveling salesmen set jollof rice on its journey across the coast where it now reigns supreme. From Sunday rice at home to party appearances, jollof brings its deliciousness everywhere. It is often served with sweet, fried ripe plantains and coleslaw in a creamy dressing

The cooking process is all about building and layering flavor. The tomato mix which forms the basis of the flavor is cooked twice—first to reduce the mixture and blunt the raw edge of a blend of tomatoes, onions, and peppers; and second to create the stew—lightly fried and seasoned with curry powder, dried thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.

In West Africa, rice isn’t considered a side dish, and jollof is no different. Regular portions of rice are around a cup or more. Whatever you decide, enjoy it. Leftovers keep well refrigerated or frozen and reheat without loss of flavor. 


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beef jollof rice recipe

Nigerian Beef Jollof Rice

4.41 from 88 votes
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Protein: Beef
Course: Main Course
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


For the tomato sauce

  • 3 medium-sized Roma plum tomatoes chopped
  • 1 fresh red bell (or red shepherd) pepper seeded
  • 2 small red onions, roughly chopped (about 1 cup) divided
  • 1/4 scotch bonnet pepper optional
  • 3 cups stock vegetable, chicken, beef or water, divided

For the beef

  • 10 ounces stewing beef cut into 1 to 2 inch chunks
  • 2 teaspoons Caribbean/Jamaican-style curry powder divided
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • Salt to taste
  • Ground white or black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil peanut or coconut (not olive oil), divided

For the stew and rice

  • 1 small red onion thinly sliced
  • 3 small to medium dried bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups parboiled (converted) long-grain rice or golden sella basmati rinsed
  • To finish (optional) ½ medium red onion, sliced onions, 1 plum tomato, halved then sliced; 1 teaspoon unsalted butter


For the tomato sauce

  • In batches in a blender, combine tomatoes, red bell pepper, chopped onions, and optional scotch bonnet with 1 1/2 cups of stock. Blend till smooth, about a minute or two. You should have roughly 4 to 5 cups of blended mix.
  • Pour into a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice till it reduces by half, to about 2 to 2 1/2 cups.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.

For the beef

  • Season the chunks of beef with 1 teaspoon curry powder and 1 teaspoon dried thyme, some salt and ground white or black pepper.
  • Set a large, heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and when it's hot, add the beef and pan fry till brown, about 5 to 6 minutes, turning till most sides are evenly browned.
  • Remove the beef and set the pot aside, oil and all. You'll use it in the next step.

For the stew and rice

  • With the same pot you used to brown the beef, add the remaining oil over medium-low heat.
  • Then add the sliced onion, a pinch of salt, bay leaves, the rest of the curry powder and dried thyme and a pinch of white or black pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on low to medium heat, stirring so the mix doesn’t burn.
  • Add the tomato paste - stir for another 2 to 3 minutes
  • Add the reduced tomato-pepper mixture from the first step, stir, and set on medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes till reduced by half, with the lid on. Taste and adjust seasoning -this is the stew that will define the pot so it’s important to taste and season well.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of the stock to the cooked tomato sauce and bring it to boil for 1 - 2 minutes.
  • Add the rinsed rice and beef, stir, cover with a double layer of foil/baking or parchment paper and put a lid on the pan—this will seal in the steam and lock in the flavour. Turn down the heat and cook on low for 30 minutes.
  • Stir rice—taste and adjust as required. If rice needs longer, leave on low heat and let it steam for a few more minutes. Add more stock or water as needed. Cook till rice is soft and easy to fluff with a fork and remove from the heat.
  • If you like, add sliced onions, fresh tomatoes and a teaspoon of butter and stir through before you serve.

To serve

  • Include accompaniments like coleslaw and sweet, ripe, fried plantains.
  • Enjoy leftovers however you like - we like boiled or fried eggs on top.
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Ozoz Sokoh–the Kitchen Butterfly–is a Nigerian food explorer, culinary anthropologist and food historian passionate about food in its entirety – cooking, eating, dreaming, researching, writing, photographing, and styling it, especially on her blog, Kitchen Butterfly.