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Written by:Zoe on: November 5, 2014

Jollof – ‘Benachin’ one pot rice

Jollof is by far and away West Africa’s most readily eaten and available food and also known as ‘party rice’ because of its frequent centre stage placing at dinner party tables and banquets.

There are many arguments between Nigerians and Ghanaians about who makes the best Jollof and variations exist in Sierra Leone, Togo, Liberia, and it goes on! In Cameroon they use coconut milk and in Gambia they bake it and it’s thought to come from the Senegalese dish ’Benachin’ – one pot rice in the Wolof language.

Almost everyone familiar with Jollof has a different recipe for it: nobody’s Jollof is as good as their mother’s or grandma’s, but the principle is always rice cooked in a spiced blend of tomatoes and onion which gives it its rich red colouring – you can use whatever meat and vegetables that take your fancy.

What epitomizes Ghanaian jollof for me is the sweet heat from Scotch Bonnet chilli and the inclusion of ground crayfish (available from African groceries) – a very distinctive smoky fish flavour and just enough robust heat from the chilli to warm the palate without having to reach for a glass of milk.

This is my recipe for Jollof with chicken.

Ingredients: recipe serves 6


6-8 pieces of bone in chicken (thigh or drumsticks)

2 large onions, finely chopped

2 gloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp fresh or dried thyme

1 large bay leaf

5-6 guinea peppers, crushed

1 scotch bonnet deseeded and diced

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

2 Tbsp (40g) Crayfish or Ground Prawn powder

1 tsp salt

4 Tbsp peanut oil or sunflower oil

1 tsp hot chili powder

1 tsp curry powder

300g long grain white rice

Chopped parsley or coriander to garnish

Shito hot pepper sauce, to serve


For the tomato sauce:

1 large onion, roughly chopped

6-8 large tomatoes chopped

200 grams tomato puree

1 scotch bonnet deseeded and diced

1 tsp salt




Stage 1: Make the broth

Heat a heavy based pot on a low heat and add the chicken along with:

1/2 the chopped onion
the minced garlic
bay leaf
guinea peppers
scotch bonnet
nutmeg and cinnamon
crayfish powder

Stir well

Add enough water to just cover the chicken and bring to the boil then simmer for 20 mins

Once the chicken is tender, remove from the pot and place on a baking tray and cover with foil to keep warm until you’re ready to put it in the oven.

Drain the fragrant broth into a jug and keep to one side to add to your rice later.

Stage 2: to make the tomato sauce

In a blender combine

The chopped tomato
Tomato puree
Roughly chopped onion
One scotch bonnet (deseeded)
A teaspoon of salt

Blend well into a smooth sauce

Stage 3: Making the jollof

In the same pot you used to make the broth heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the remaining onion until soft.

Add the chili powder and curry power – stir in to coat the onion and continue to sauté for 5 mins

Add some of the tomato sauce, saving aside one ladle or so to add later once the rice is in.

Add the broth to the pan and stir in.

Wash the rice thoroughly (I usually wash it three times) to remove as much starch as possible, then stir it in to the broth so that it’s evenly coated.

Reduce the heat and cover pan with tin foil to keep in the steam, then replace the lid.

Simmer for 30 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.

Finally, stir in the reserved tomato sauce and take off the heat.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

With 15 minutes to go before the rice is done, remove the foil from the chicken and place into the hot oven for 15 minutes.

Serve the rice with the chicken pieces on top and sprinkle the fresh herb garnish over the top. Serve with hot pepper sauce on the side.




If the sauce isn’t hot enough before adding the rice, the rice will soak up the cold water and become soggy.

If you find that half way through cooking the rice is too dry, top up with additional water adding a cup at a time as necessary.



You can make this an even meatier dish by adding extra meat such as lamb, beef or goat but you can also make it a delicious vegetarian dish also using fresh garden eggs, carrots and peas plus other mixed vegetables, and excluding ground crayfish.

ZGK Jollof with Chicken and Spicy Slaw

ZGK Jollof with Chicken and Spicy Slaw


ZGK Jollof with Chicken

ZGK Jollof with Chicken and Spicy Slaw – image taken by