Jollof Rice Recipe

If you’ve never tried African heritage cuisine, African Heritage & Health Week on February 1-7, 2013 is the perfect time to discover why its savory flavors and naturally healthy features make African Heritage cuisine the next big food trend.  Oldways, the food and nutrition education nonprofit organizing the celebration, challenges everyone, everywhere to enjoy at least one dish at home or at a restaurant inspired by the cuisine of African-American ancestors and Oldways’ African Heritage Diet Pyramid

Coinciding with Black History Month, African Heritage & Health Week commemorates the foods, flavors and healthy cooking techniques that were core to the wellbeing of African ancestors from Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and the American South.  Scientific studies show that many chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, now prevalent in African American communities, appear in populations as traditional diets are left behind.  Black History Month is the perfect time to commemorate and explore the healthy culinary side of history.

Jollof Rice is a much-loved traditional dish in West Africa, and it is the underpinning of Senegal’s national dish thiebou dienn, a meal of red rice and fish. Its name is derived from Senegal’s Wolof Empire and it is one of many tomato-based rice dishes found in African heritage.

Jollof Rice is prepared with tomatoes and tomato paste, occasionally including minced onions and bell peppers, cooked together to make savory red rice. Many of the same ingredients, grown in the gardens of enslaved African-Americans, turn up in the American tomato-enriched rice dishes known as Mulatto Rice, Charleston Red Rice, and Jambalaya.

Jollof Rice. Photo by Lew Harriman, courtesy of Oldways
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained (save liquid)
  • 4 cups liquid (see step below)
  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large carrot, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 head of green cabbage, chopped  (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. Drain liquid from diced tomatoes into a measuring cup. Add enough water to equal 4 cups of liquid total, and put in a medium sized pot with the brown rice. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer until rice is tender to your taste, about 30-35 minutes.
  2. While the rice cooks, heat the oil in a large pan. Cook onions and garlic until onion is soft and pale, about 5 minutes. Add chopped carrots and cabbage, tomato paste and tomatoes, and spices. Simmer with the lid on for a few minutes on low heat until the vegetables are done to your taste. Adjust spices until you’re happy with them.
  3. When the rice is done, mix it with the vegetables, or simply serve the rice with everything else on top. Garnish with a little parsley if you’d like.

Photo credit: Lew Harriman
Cost Per Serving: $0.56
*All costs based on actual grocery store prices in January 2012. Prices may vary by location.

Nutritional Analysis:

Calories: 287, Total Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 96mg, Carbohydrates: 53g, Total Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 4g, Protein: 7g

6-8 servings

About Oldways

Oldways ( is a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, with a mission to guide people to good health through heritage, using practical and positive programs grounded in science and tradition. Simply, we advocate for the healthful pleasures of real food. Oldways is the parent organization for The Whole Grains Council and The Mediterranean Foods Alliance, and is well-known for creating the Whole Grain Stamp and the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.


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