Welcome to The Storied Recipe Podcast! This recipe comes from my podcast guest, Agatha Achindu. While you make her Party Jollof Rice, listen to her episode Lessons from Cameroon, to hear how her mother - a Nigerian scholar turned Cameroonian farmer - made this Coconut Jollof Rice.
Jollof rice is a popular one-pot rice and tomato dish in popular in West African cuisine. All countries, regions, and even families have different ways of making the dish. (In fact, on The Storied Recipe alone, I've received recipes for Nigerian Jollof Rice and Riz au Gras from the Ivory Coast).
My podcast guest, Agatha Achindu, says she is as qualified as anyone else to speak on Jollof Rice, as her mother was Nigerian and her father was Cameroonian. This is her very favorite Jollof Rice, her mother's Coconut Jollof Rice with carrots and green beans. As she explains in her episode, this isn't everyday just your everyday rice dish - this is Party Jollof Rice.
We usually assume that special occasion food takes longer to make than weekday dishes - but not so with Agatha's Jollof Rice. In Agatha's recipe, once everything is chopped and prepared, the dish comes together with just a 29 minutes of total cooking time, from the first onion to the final steam. (Add a 10 minute rest at the end too!). While I don't want to declare a best Jollof Rice here on The Storied Recipe, I can say I found this recipe the easiest to make.
P.S. Serve this dish with Kelewele, Ghanaian Fried Plantains, the first recipe featured on The Storied Recipe! And if someone wants to come on to talk about Ghanaian Jollof Rice, I'd love to have you!
- About Agatha Achindu
- Listen to Agatha Now
- Follow The Storied Recipe in Your Favorite Player
- Keys to Best Jollof Rice Recipe
- General Instructions
- Food Safety
- Related Recipes
- You May Enjoy These Episodes
- Party Jollof Rice Recipe from Cameroon (Coconut Shrimp)
About Agatha Achindu
Agatha was born and raised in a seaside town of Cameroon, where fresh fish was roasted by the shore daily. Her father worked to develop and distribute life-saving vaccines to the most vulnerable populations in Cameroon. Agatha’s mother was a scholar-turned-farmer, who owned and worked a profitable plantation many miles from their home. Together, Agatha’s forward-thinking parents instilled in her a belief in her own potential and the power of education and her community taught her all that food could be: a time of happiness, connection, health, and healing. She shares all of the wisdom she's accrued over years as a Nutritional expert and Integrated Health Specialist in her new book, Bountiful Cooking
Listen to Agatha Now
Follow The Storied Recipe in Your Favorite Player
Jollof Rice Basics:
No matter which ingredients or method you choose, when it comes to the art of cooking Jollof Rice, you will always, always work with two cornerstone ingredients: Tomatoes and Rice.
Tomatoes: Agatha's recipe uses fresh, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste.
If you don't have either, substitute the total amount with canned, crushed tomatoes or tomato puree.
Type of Rice: Agatha calls for basmati rice. A long grain rice choice is a bit more delicate than the traditional option of parboiled rice (Uncle Ben's). It may be a little more difficult to achieve the perfect doneness, but the result is delicate grains that are separate and each coated in flavor. Careful not to overcook the rice. See notes in the instructions.
The Distinctive Taste of this Party Jollof Rice
Several things make this Jollof Rice different than any others I've tried. Here are the ingredients that give the distinctive taste of Agatha's Coconut Jollof Rice from Cameroon.
Coconut flavoring is achieved through coconut oil and coconut milk
Although the coconut is new to me, it was standard for Agatha's mother. The real special ingredients are carrots and green beans, which Agatha's mother didn't include in everyday Jollof. If you don't have coconut milk on hand, no problem - replace with equal amounts of meat stock (chicken or beef) or even water (but add a little more salt).
Fresh ginger gives a zing to this tomato stew and, along with the scallions, perfectly complement the coconut
Garlic. Not all Jollof Rice recipes call for garlic, but it really complements the other flavors in this one.
Basil. Again, not a traditional addition, but the perfect sweet complement to the coconut, shrimp, and ginger. High
- Agatha recommends Scotch Bonnet Peppers or Crushed Red Peppers
- Scotch Bonnets are SPICY for the unintiated, so if you're not prepared for them, think twice
- Many recommend white pepper. Start with a teaspoon and add with the tomatoes. Cook and add more to taste.
In addition to the special flavors added to Agatha's Party Jollof rice, she uses ingredients common to almost all versions
Chicken broth (chicken stock). Feel free to substitute with beef, vegetable, or seafood stock.
Seasoning cubes. Agatha recommends Better than Bouillon or coconut aminos
Bay leaves. Add these from the very beginning, with the onions and leeks, so the flavor infuses everything along the way.
Onion: Agatha calls for red onion, leeks, and scallions. Each of these added something special, but if you're lacking any of them, go with regular yellow onions.
Cooking oil: Agatha calls for coconut oil, but I used vegetable oil. I'm sure coconut would be better, but use what you have!
- Curry powder or curry leaves are common additions to Jollof Rice that would go beautifully in this instance
- Red bell peppers are also common in Party Jollof Rice recipes
- A few drops of liquid smoke can enhance the smoky taste that some find essential in their Jollof Rice
Keys to Best Jollof Rice Recipe
The rice MUST be cooked correctly, with every grain separate and not mushy. Here are a few tips to achieve this (You can listen to Agatha's episode to hear them in her own words):
- Soak the basmati rice in cold water to remove excess starch and any dust or impurities. Soaked is less likely to clump and Agatha says an important quality to ANY Jollof Rice is that the grains are separate.
- Tightly cover the lid so no steam can escape. If your lid isn't particularly tight-fitting, you can cover the pot with a dish towel or foil before covering.
- Do not check the rice except when specifically told to by Agatha's recipe.
- If you need to keep steaming, just keep the burner on low, cover tightly again, and do not check again for at least 5 minutes.
- Personally, I think the best tips are found on Chef Lola's site and, in addition to my own podcast guests, I used her expertise when making two of the recipes on this site.
- Sauté onions, leeks, bay leaf, and garlic.
- Cook tomato paste and tomatoes.
- Add coconut milk, broth, ginger, scallions, salt, and blended peppers and bring to a boil. .
- Stir in washed rice and simmer.
- Add carrots, green beans, and shrimp; continue to cook, covered.
- Let it rest, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork, add basil, and serve.
You'll need a heavy-bottomed pot with a tightly fitting lid
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3 days.
- You can freeze the Jollof Rice, as long as it is adequately cooked and there is no excess liquid. If your Jollof Rice is stew-like, it will get extra runny and the rice will be mushy when defrosted.
This recipe contains shrimp, which should be handled with extra care. Here are a few tips:
- Keep fresh shrimp in the refrigerator at temperatures below 40°F (4°C) and use them within a day or two.
- If you're not using frozen shrimp immediately, store them in the freezer at 0°F (-18°C) or lower.
- Allow plenty of time for the shrimp to thaw in the refrigerator (usually overnight).
- Avoid thawing shrimp at room temperature, as this can promote bacterial growth.
- Shrimp should be cooked until they turn pink and opaque. The internal temperature should reach 145°F (63°C) to ensure they are safe to eat.