Nigerian native jollof is one of the less talked about rice dishes in the country for some reason, but the dish is absolutely delicious. It is easy to prepare and the full-on flavours of smoky palm-oil with fermented locust beans which always seem to work is so good that everyone comes back for seconds.
Jollof rice is one of the most popular food from West Africa, I mean we have the jollof wars between Nigeria and Ghana, which never ceases to amaze me. The Nigerian native jollof, traditionally known by Efik people as “iwuk edesi” originated from the Southern part of Nigeria. We can make a bold claim that this scrumptious dish it is a traditional Nigerian dish.
This native Nigerian food is a delicious combination of rice in a pepper and tomato based sauce similar to the regular jollof, but that is where the similarities end. Native jollof rice is cooked with palm oil, hence why some call it “palm oil jollof rice. Other local ingredients like fermented locust beans, ugu (pumpkin leaves) and dried seafood are used also added to the dish.
Palm oil is one of the main cooking oils in West Africa. It is less processed and still retains the red-orange colour and the nutrients of the palm fruits. This is different to the white palm-oil used industrially all over the world. Palm oil imparts an orange colour to food and gives this palm oil jollof a distinct taste and aroma.
How To Cook Native Jollof Rice
Like a lot of Nigerian foods, native jollof rice is versatile and can be prepared with a variety of proteins. A combination of dried and fresh fish, as well as meat is typically used, which, with the addition of vegetables, makes it a complete one-pot meal.
You can add “orisirisi”, which is a Yoruba word for “assortment”, and in the context of food, means assortment of meats, depending on individual preferences. I used dried prawns, and smoked mackerel for my recipe with the addition of spinach instead of ugu.
I recommend sella/golden basmati for this recipe. It is my go-to rice. It is fluffy, with a unique flavour and also holds up its texture very well during cooking without becoming sticky.
If you are looking for delicious, Nigerian inspired recipes, then you must check out my e-book "25 from 30". Here, I created 25 tasty original recipes with 30 ingredients, most of which you will find in a Nigerian kitchen like yam, beans, rice, plantain etc.
Nigerian Native Jollof Rice
- Soak the prawns in hot water for about an hour before cooking.
- Wash the locust beans and keep aside.
- Remove the stalk from the bell peppers and scotch bonnet, wash and place in a blender.
- Peel one onion, cut into quarters and add into the blender.
- Blend the peppers and onion.
- Peel and chop the remaining onion. Keep to one side.
- Pour the palm oil in a pan and place under medium heat until hot.
- Add the chopped onion into the pan and fry for around 2-3 mins.
- Pour the pepper, tomato and onion blend into the pan.
- Add the locust beans.
- Drain the prawns and add into the pan. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent sticking.
- Wash the rice, drain and pour into the pan. Add the stock with some water. You can use stock cubes instead of stock.
- Add some salt and the mackerel. Stir thoroughly.
- Cover the pan and allow the rice to cook.
- Check the rice after a few minutes, and if more liquid is needed, add a small quantity of stock or water at a time.
- Cover the pot and reduce the heat until all the liquid is absorbed, and the rice is cooked.
- Stir in the spinach and serve.