white bowl with tomato rice and spoon next to linen

Vegetarian Jollof Rice


Bring the flavors of Ghana to your kitchen with this vegetarian (and technically vegan) version of Jollof Rice – spicy, steamed tomato rice, inspired by travels to West Africa. 



  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil (or oil of choice)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 34 garlic cloves
  • 12 Thai chilis (optional: seeds removed)
  • 1 1/2 inch piece ginger, peel removed
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • ~2 tsp kosher salt total, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock


  1. In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Puree onion in a blender until smooth, and add to heated oil. Let simmer to reduce down and release all the liquid. I like to add a pinch of the salt here, to continue layering in the flavor. It will cook for about 8-10 minutes total until “paste-like”. Stir occasionally – some browning is ok!
  2. As the onion cooks down, add the garlic, chilis, ginger, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste to the blender. Puree until smooth. Once the onion puree has cooked down, add the tomato mixture along with the remaining dry spices (salt, thyme, curry powder, black pepper). Stir to combine and continue to let cook down for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s thick and a deep red color. 
  3. Add the rice and stir to coat with the tomato mixture. Pour in the water or stock, stir to combine. Cover and let simmer for 30-40 minutes until rice is cooked through. You’ll want to stir it 1-2 times during the cooking process, but not too much so the rice continues to steam. If needed, add an additional 1/4-1/2 cup liquid if most is absorbed but rice is still firm. 
  4. Once cooked through, serve alongside vegetables or a protein of choice. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. 


If you love spice, leave the seeds in the chilis before pureeing them; if you want it a little less spicy, go ahead and remove the seeds before pureeing. I usually remove the seeds of one chili and it ends up with a good kick – just depends on your taste buds and the peppers themselves!

  • Category: Side
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Ghanian

Keywords: vegetarian, ghana, one pot, travel, vegan, african

Recipe Card powered by