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Chicken, Pepper & Spinach 'Jollof' Rice

chicken, pepper and spinach 'jollof' rice recipe
A spicy chicken and rice dish based on the classic west African 'jollof' rice.

Food blogging as we know it (in a nutshell) is a melange of gorgeous food photography, captivating writing style and quality content i.e. your recipes work, those are all key to keep people coming back. Yes I know all those things, yet fail on most accounts because I want to be true to who I am. Inconsistent and indecisive spring to mind but let's forget that and focus on the one positive - honesty, I hope to always be honest with the content I provide. Not all my recipes are life changingly delicious that will make you never want another recipe again....BUT they put a smile on my face, sometimes my family members and maybe yours too?!

Yesterday evening I scurried around the Kitchen to find all the components for this recipe. The whole idea of making jollof rice was initially recommended to me by a sister on Instagram and this particular one is based on the original but not truly authentic.  
Jollof rice, also called Benachin, meaning "one pot" in the Wolof language, is a popular dish in many parts of West Africa. It is thought to have originated amongst members of the Wolof ethnic group in the Senegambia region; the historic name for the Wolof people and their empire being Jollof, but has since spread to the whole of West Africa, especially NigeriaTogoGhanaSierra Leone and Liberia. There are many variations of Jollof rice. The most common basic ingredients are rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, onion, salt, and red pepper. Beyond that, nearly any kind of meat, vegetable, or spice can be added. Wikipedia
chicken, pepper and spinach 'jollof' rice recipe
I was out of one of the key components to this dish, tomato paste which gives the rice most of it's colour, which by the way I love, as well as intense tomato flavour. Never fear ketchup is here! but of course if you have tomato puree use that instead. 

Also I didn't have any eye popping scotch bonnets so used a mixed green chilli but red chilli is more authentic. For added heat I kept the white pith intact (not something i recommend you do with scotch bonnet) because if you didn't already know it's the white pith not the seeds which are the hottest part of any chilli. 

I was fairly impressed with this dish even if the reviews on the recipe source were saying it's not true to the classic, i tend to agree there was a lacking depth of flavour to the actual rice (my tomato paste to ketchup substitute won't have helped) but the chilli heat certainly came through nicely. These disputes about recipes are to be expected in the world we live in today everyone has there own take on a dish.

Please share 'the best' jollof rice recipe with me if you have it.
chicken, pepper and spinach 'jollof' rice recipe
Not bad looking considering it's 12 hours old and re-heated!

Chicken, Pepper & Spinach 'Jollof' Rice

Recipe Source: Adapted from BBCGoodFood
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 
Skill Level: Easy
Serves: 3


For Ginger Chilli Base

1 garlic clove
1 400 gram tin plum tomatoes 
thumb size piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1 mixed green chilli, stalk removed

200 grams halal boneless chicken thighs, cut into decent size chunks
½ tablespoon sunflower oil
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
½ tablespoon tomato paste
½ chicken or veg stock cube
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and sliced
100 grams baby spinach, washed

To Serve

small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped


  1. Make the ginger and chilli base. Put the garlic, tomatoes, ginger and chilli into a food processor or blender and whizz till smooth.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large deep frying pan over a high heat then add the meat and fry for about 5 mins till golden all over. Lift out of the pan onto a plate. Add the rest of the oil to the pan and fry the onions until soft but not golden, about 5 mins.
  3. Add the tomato purée to the onions, fry for another 2 mins then add the ginger and chilli mix. Crumble in the stock cube, stir then pour in 300ml boiling water. Add the chicken, bring to the boil then simmer for 15 mins.
  4. Rinse rice in a fine mesh sieve under cold water until water runs clear. Add rice to the pan, lightly stir and turn the heat down to a simmer then cover with foil (i used 2 sheets) and lid so steam can't escape then cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Take the lid off (the rice won’t be cooked yet) then scatter the peppers and spinach over the rice. Re-cover and cook for 10 mins until the veg is softened and the rice tender. Just before serving, mix the veg through and scatter over coriander.
You may also be interested in Bahraini Chicken Machbous

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At 23 October 2014 at 19:01 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhhh Asmaa this looks so flavorful mashAllah! I love this idea and can't wait to give it a shot myself!

At 23 October 2014 at 19:31 , Blogger Halal Home Cooking - UmmHamza said...

Jazaak Allahu khair sister yes please do try it.

At 26 October 2014 at 01:36 , Blogger The Halal Gourmet said...

This is the best rice ever, hands down and I rep hard for Persian/Afghani rice. Given my Caribbean ancestry, I should put it way up there but I just can't sorry. Jollof then Persian rice are top, top, top.
Re authenticity: there are as many versions of Jollof rice, like with any cultural dish, as there are people who cook it. There was a Nigerian schoolmate of mine who would bring Jollof nearly everyday and she was so sweet, may Allaah guide her, and would let me have some every time I would see her with it.
I don't think she even had tomato paste in hers but deffo okra. Lots of okra. So you see... own it as long as it's still rice and chicken its fine.
Thanks for reminding me of this amazing dish, I almost forgot how delicious it was. Need to make some soon!

At 26 October 2014 at 06:36 , Blogger Halal Home Cooking - UmmHamza said...

Ameen, i was going to make mine with okra but my husband doesn't like it much. Jazaak Allahu Khair regarding the authenticity i felt i had to make a point about it because when doing the write up i noticed lots of complaints on recipe source.

At 26 October 2014 at 06:39 , Blogger Halal Home Cooking - UmmHamza said...

Your welcome sister glad to be of service hehe, enjoy your jollof rice making and eating. Baarak Allahu Feeki


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