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How To Cook Jollof Quinoa

Lerato's Jollof

Photo for Lerato Foods by



Sweet and smokey flavours evoking memories of love and family; that is the beauty of jollof to me. I love sharing this recipe with guests at our cookery classes and supperclubs, creating new memories as we cook together.

The great thing about this dish is that the burnt crust you may get at the bottom of the pot is a favourite amongst many. I personally avoid it because I do not like hassle of burnt pots. So if yours burns a little, remember its all part of the wonderful recipe.

Originally cooked with rice, this dish from the wollof people of Sene-Gambia is just as wonderful with grains such as barley, Ethiopian teff, brown and wild rice varieties. You can also find British grown quinoa in stores now. Be conservative with your water quantity and don't be tempted to stir!

The most common questions I have been asked are; “how can I make sure it doesn’t turn to mush, how do I make sure it tastes nice, how do I make sure it’s a bright red hue?” 

The answers are simple; prevent the mush by using little water at a time and cooking patiently especially if using basmati rice or quinoa which require a steam cook, maximise flavours by using bold spices both fresh and dried, and by using a good blend of tomatoes and peppers. 

Use more water for tougher grains such as brown rice which will also need patience and extended cooking time. 

Each time you prepare Jollof, you will become better and better at it. So don’t worry, just give it a go and enjoy the marvel that you will create. 


Serves 6

Cooking Time: 45 minutes  

300g Quinoa, thoroughly rinsed

1 onion, sliced

For the puree 
5 tomatoes or 1 x 400g can of tomatoes or passata

1 brown onion

1 scotch bonnet (optional, or pierce and place into the pot to cook with sauce)

5cm or a thumb size of ginger

3 garlic cloves

1 red bell pepper 

Continue with
2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 bay leaf

1 stock cube (optional)

2 tsp fine sea salt 


Let's get cooking!

1. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sweat the sliced onions for a few until softened. Add the blended puree, bayleaf and cook with the lid on medium heat for up to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the puree reduces and becomes drier in texture.

2. Add the dry spices, stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add the rinsed quinoa, stock, salt and 500ml of water or just enough water to submerge the quinoa.

3. Turn up the heat, and as soon as you bring the quinoa to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for up to 30 minutes. Check regularly and carefully push the sides of the quinoa from the sides to check for water. Add a little water at a time if dry.

4. After 20 minutes, taste the quinoa and if softened but with a little bite, take it off the heat and leave covered to continue to steam. To serve, fluff with a fork.

Garnish with your favourite herbs, slices of bananas for a hearty option, or lemon and pomegranate jewels for a zesty addition.


If you enjoyed this recipe, please like and share with the world. I love reading from you, so share your pictures when you do try it.

Remember to tag me @leratofoods on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook also using the hashtag #leratofoods so I can easily find your posts.
Happy cooking!!!


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