Nigerian Native Jollof Rice

With Jollof being such a celebratory dish in West Africa, it feels right to celebrate it around the time of the holiday season. And I wanted to celebrate all varieties of Jollof as well as go back to my roots. That’s where this Native Jollof Rice Recipes comes in.

What is Jollof Rice?

There are core components that make up a true Jollof rice and give it its flavor profile: a flavorful Omi Eran (meat stock, specifically chicken), the Elo Obe (the ingredient base – tomato, red pepper and/or tatashe pepper, onion, and habanero pepper), curry powder (specifically Jamaican curry), dried thyme, oil, and the smokiness that comes from cooking the Jollof over an open wood flame. 

Nigerian Jollof rice is usually cooked with long-grain parboiled rice. Most of the ingredients – the Elo Obe, the oil, and the stock – are cooked in one pot, and the rice becomes a medium to carry all of these flavors. The dish is then served with a protein of choice and other accompaniments that may include fried plantains, moimoi, or steamed vegetables.

What Makes Native Jollof Rice Different?

“Native” Jollof rice originates from Nigeria, but it differs from the traditional Nigerian Jollof in the type of oil used and some of its other ingredients.

Native Jollof rice is also known as Iwuk Edesi. This name comes from the Efik people in Southeastern Nigeria. It’s made with palm oil instead of vegetable oil. It also usually includes more local ingredients like fermented locust beans (Iru), Ugu (pumpkin leaves), spinach or basil (Efinrin), and dried or smoked seafood. 

The palm oil and these other ingredients help give Native Jollof Rice a distinct, unique flavor. Palm oil also has a reddish-orange color, which contributes to the characteristic color of the dish and the very particular aroma.

For my recipe, I used our Egunsifoods’ Ata Din Din sauce in place of making the Elo Obe base from scratch. The flavors came out perfectly. I didn’t use the oil from the Ata Din Din because I wanted to be true to the recipe, and so I used the traditional palm oil, but if you decide to go this route, you can save the oil and use it like a chili oil to enhance the flavor of your other favorite dishes!

When it comes to the final product, texture is important – it’s all about getting that perfect bite on a spoon. You want a little bit of everything: the small cuts of cow skin meat (Ponmo), dry fish, Ugu, etc. 

Ozoz Sokoh of Kitchen Butterfly recently shared on our IG Live discussion of “Celebration of Jollof that the Itsekiri people of Southern Nigeria describe the perfect bite when eating Banga soup as “everywhere nah market.” This means, “everywhere you stop at, there is a whole symphony and wealth of flavor happening.” This also describes the perfect bite of Native Jollof Rice, that your taste buds will awaken to deliciousness when eating this dish. 

I can’t wait for you to try it!

What You Need to Make Native Jollof Rice

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Servings: 6-8 People


  • 2 cups long grain rice, rinsed
  • 1 jar of Egunsifoods’ Ata Din Din Sauce, drained of oil
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon Iru woro (fermented locust beans)
  • 1 teaspoon ground smoked prawns
  • 1 tablespoon dried smoked crayfish
  • 2 medium cuts of cow skin (ponmo)
  • 2 medium dried smoked catfish**
  • ½ cup of smoked dry prawns**
  • 1 medium red habanero pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¼ cup of palm oil
  • 1 cup of fresh spinach, julienne cut*

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, add the palm oil and let it heat up for 3 minutes. Then add the diced onion and the Iru (fermented locust beans). Saute until the onion is translucent and the ingredients start to become fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the Ata Din Din sauce (without the oil), the ground smoked prawns, the dried smoked crayfish, the rehydrated smoked fish and smoked prawns, the habanero pepper, and the cow skin. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken stock, then cover the pot and let the mixture come to a roiling boil. Taste the stock for salt and adjust accordingly, then add the rinsed rice and cook for about 15 minutes, until it comes back to a rolling boil.
  5. Transfer the pot to the preheated oven and allow to cook for another 20 minutes. Take out the pot of rice, add the spinach, and stir it into the cooked rice, then return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. Enjoy!


This is best consumed the same day for maximum flavor. When this dish is cooled down according to the FDA guidelines, it tends to negatively affect the taste.

*If using frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze out all the water before adding

**To hydrate your dried smoked catfish and prawns: add the prawns and the catfish (broken into small pieces) into separate bowls and cover each with boiling water. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to hydrate. To clean, drain, discard water, and run under cold water for a final rinse. For the prawns, the shell will continue to soften once cooked, or you can take the shell off according to your preference.

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published