Kwanzaa Culinarians

Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora

Jollof Rice, A West African-Inspired Dish

Jolloff Rice

A West African dish, Jollof Rice, or Benachin,  is similar to Latin American’s Arroz Con Pollo, a Spanish Paella, Louisiana’s Jambalaya or Korean Bibimbap. The ground spices, such as cumin, coriander and chilies, are what make this rice dish unique and spicy, and these ingredients are mentioned in Oldways‘ African Heritage Diet Pyramid. This is an Americanize version with cinnamon and wine, for Senegal is a Muslim country which doesn’t use alcohol in their food. This recipe is adapted from The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa by Marcus Samuelsson. It’s a beautiful, cultural cookbook illustrated with photos of people, ingredients and cuisines of the African continent.

Jollof Rice
Originally posted on

1/4 cup unsalted butter or coconut oil
(Optional) 4 chicken sausages with lamb castings removed*
1-3 lb. chicken, cut into 10 pieces, lightly seasoned with Harissa spice blend (found at specialty stores)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground caraway
1/2 smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 medium or 1 large red onion
1 green pepper, diced
2 to 3 celery stalks, diced
2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
10 tomatoes, chopped or 1-28 oz. canned Plum tomatoes, chopped
2 jalapeño chilies, seeds and ribs discarded, finely diced
1-1/2 cup long-grain white Basmati rice
2-1/2 cup chicken stock
(Optional) 1/2 cup red wine
4 scallions, sliced thin; plus more for garnish
1-1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed or if using fresh, blanched
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter or coconut oil over medium heat. Add chicken and brown on both sides. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

2. Drain pot of excessive butter/liquid, but leave 2 tbsp. of oil. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic, ginger, spices and the cinnamon sticks. Stir for 30 seconds. Add green pepper, celery, jalapeño chilies, salt and pepper. Stir until vegetables soften. {Optional: Add the chicken sausage and cook until done}

3. Return chicken parts back to the pot. Add bay leaves, tomatoes, rice, chicken stock and wine (optional). Cover and adjust heat to a simmer.

4. Cook for 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the peas and the scallions. Adjust seasoning.

5. Garnish with more scallions and enjoy.

*Note: If the casing is pork or the sausage size is large, use 2 chicken sausages.

About Sanura

Art Director/Senior Graphic Designer at Food Writer at


This entry was posted on December 9, 2011 by in 2011, Recipe and tagged , , , , , , , .

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Learn more about Kwanzaa

The word "Kwanzaa" comes from the phrase, "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first-fruits." Kwanzaa's extra "a" evolved as a result of a particular history of the Organization Us. It was clone as an expression of African values in order to inspire the creativity of our children. In the early days of Us, there were seven children who each wanted to represent a letter of Kwanzaa. Since kwanza (first) has only six letters, we added an extra "a" to make it seven, thus creating "Kwanzaa." To learn more about Kwanzaa, visit the Official Kwanzaa Website.

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