• Jollof rice (China Squirrel)Source: China Squirrel

Jollof rice, or ceebu jen as it's known in Senegal, is perhaps the best-known West African dish because it's delicious, colourful and easy to prepare. Think of it like an African paella. It uses "parboiled" rice, which has a different texture to regular white rice.






Skill level

Average: 3.8 (198 votes)


Obe ata (African sauce)

  • 5 tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 red capsicums, chopped
  • 6 small red chillies
  • 100 ml cooking oil (see Note)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 golden shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh efiri (African mint) (optional) 
  • pinch of salt


Fish and rice

  • 1 kg firm fish fillets, such as marlin, cut into large cubes 
  • 25 g chilli flakes mixed with 1 tsp salt flakes
  • 2½ tbsp cooking oil (see Note)
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 green capsicum, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 zucchini (or 2 celery stalks with leaves), chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 250 ml (1 cup) water 
  • 2 cups parboiled long-grain rice (see Note)


  • fried plaintain chips, to serve (optional)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


To make the obe ata, puree the tomato in a food processor or blender. Transfer to a bowl.

Puree the capsicum and chilli in a food processor or blender. Transfer to a separate bowl.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, shallot, spring onion, celery, African mint and salt and sauté, stirring well, until the onions are translucent.

Add the tomato puree and the capsicum-chilli puree and cook for 10 minutes.

To make the fish and rice, sprinkle the fish with the chilli flakes and salt and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the carrot, capsicum, tomato and zucchini and salt, and cook for 10 minutes or until softened a little.

Add the fish, water, rice and obe ata sauce. Gently mix together and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until the rice and vegetables are cooked.


Cook's notes

• It's traditional to cook with red palm oil but if you have health or environmental concerns, you can use any cooking oil.

• Parboiled (converted rice) is rice that has been soaked, steamed and dried, thus changing the texture of the rice. It is commonly used in African and Indian cooking. It's available from African and Indian grocers. 


Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel

(Tea towel from The Happenstore.)