Gambian Jollof Rice Recipe - Flavorful Shrimp and Vegetable Delight

Gambian Jollof Rice

Gambian Jollof Rice Recipe - Flavorful Shrimp and Vegetable Delight
Region / culture: Gambia | Preparation time: 20 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour | Servings: 4


Gambian Jollof Rice
Gambian Jollof Rice

Gambian Jollof Rice is a flavorful and aromatic dish that is popular in West Africa. This dish is a staple in Gambian cuisine and is often served at special occasions and gatherings. The combination of shrimp, vegetables, and spices makes this dish a delicious and satisfying meal.


Jollof Rice is believed to have originated in Senegal and spread to other West African countries, including Gambia. The dish is traditionally made with rice, tomatoes, onions, and a variety of spices. Over time, different regions have put their own spin on the recipe, adding ingredients such as shrimp, vegetables, and meats.


How to prepare

  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink, approximately 2 – 3 minutes.
  3. Drain the cooking liquid and set it aside; let the shrimp cool.
  4. To the shrimp cooking liquid, add bouillon granules and additional water to make 4 cups.
  5. In 0.5 cup of the bouillon, simmer the onions, peppers, garlic, and mushrooms until softened.
  6. Stir in the carrots, tomatoes, spices, rice, and remaining bouillon; bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
  7. Meanwhile, peel the shrimp.
  8. Just before serving, adjust the seasonings if necessary, stir in the shrimp and green peas, and garnish with cilantro or parsley.


  • You can add chicken, beef, or tofu instead of shrimp for a different protein option.
  • Add more vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, or okra for added nutrition and flavor.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

Make sure to cook the shrimp just until they turn pink to avoid overcooking.

- Adjust the seasonings to your taste preferences by adding more or less cayenne pepper and turmeric.

- For a vegetarian version, you can omit the shrimp and add more vegetables or tofu.

- Garnish the dish with fresh parsley or cilantro for a pop of color and flavor.

Serving Suggestions

Serve Gambian Jollof Rice with a side of fried plantains or a fresh salad for a complete meal.

Cooking Techniques

Simmer the rice and vegetables together to allow the flavors to meld and the rice to absorb the liquid.

Ingredient Substitutions

Use white rice instead of brown rice for a different texture.

- Substitute vegetable broth for the water and bouillon for a vegetarian version.

Make Ahead Tips

You can prepare the dish ahead of time and reheat it before serving. Just add the shrimp and peas right before serving.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Gambian Jollof Rice in a large serving bowl and garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro for a beautiful presentation.

Pairing Recommendations

Pair Gambian Jollof Rice with a refreshing glass of hibiscus tea or a fruity sangria for a delicious meal.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

- Each serving of Gambian Jollof Rice contains approximately 350 calories.


- Brown rice: 1 lb (454 g) contains approximately 160 g of carbohydrates.


- Shrimp: 1 lb (454 g) contains approximately 6 g of fat.


- Shrimp: 1 lb (454 g) contains approximately 90 g of protein.

Vitamins and minerals

Shrimp is a good source of vitamin B12, selenium, and phosphorus.


Shrimp is a common allergen. Please be cautious if you or your guests have shellfish allergies.


Gambian Jollof Rice is a nutritious dish that is high in carbohydrates, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals.


Gambian Jollof Rice is a flavorful and satisfying dish that is perfect for a special occasion or a weeknight meal. With a combination of shrimp, vegetables, and spices, this dish is sure to become a favorite in your household. Enjoy the rich flavors and aromas of this traditional Gambian recipe!

How did I get this recipe?

The memory of discovering this recipe for the first time is a happy memory that I hold dear in my heart. It was many years ago, during a trip to the beautiful country of Gambia, that I first tasted the delightful flavors of Gambian Jollof Rice.

I remember the warm, sunny day when I stumbled upon a bustling outdoor market in the heart of Banjul. The air was filled with the enticing aromas of spices and grilled meats, and I couldn't resist following my nose to see what delicious treasures awaited me. As I weaved through the crowded aisles, I came across a small stall where an elderly woman was cooking up a fragrant pot of rice mixed with vibrant red peppers, succulent tomatoes, and tender chunks of chicken.

Intrigued by the enticing aroma, I approached the woman and struck up a conversation with her. She introduced herself as Mama Sana, a local cook who had been preparing traditional Gambian dishes for decades. I was fascinated by her stories of growing up in a small village and learning to cook from her mother and grandmother. She spoke with such passion and pride about the culinary traditions of her country, and I knew I had stumbled upon a true gem.

Mama Sana graciously invited me to watch as she prepared her famous Jollof Rice, a dish that she claimed was a staple in every Gambian household. I eagerly accepted her offer and spent the afternoon by her side, observing her every move as she expertly seasoned the rice, simmered the sauce, and cooked the chicken to perfection.

As the sun began to set and the tantalizing aroma of the Jollof Rice filled the air, Mama Sana finally declared that it was ready to be served. We sat down together at a makeshift table and dug into the steaming pot of rice with our hands, savoring each mouthful as if it were a precious gift.

The flavors of the Jollof Rice were unlike anything I had ever tasted before – a perfect balance of spicy, smoky, and savory notes that danced on my taste buds and left me craving more. I was hooked from the very first bite, and I knew that I had to learn how to make this dish for myself.

Over the next few days, I shadowed Mama Sana in her kitchen, taking notes and asking endless questions as she patiently guided me through the intricate process of making Gambian Jollof Rice. It was a labor of love, requiring careful attention to detail and a deep respect for the ingredients, but I was determined to master the recipe.

After many hours of practice and experimentation, I finally felt confident enough to recreate Mama Sana's Jollof Rice on my own. The first time I served it to my family, their eyes lit up with delight as they took their first bite and exclaimed that it tasted just like the one we had enjoyed in Gambia.

Since then, Gambian Jollof Rice has become a beloved staple in our household, a dish that we look forward to sharing with friends and guests at every opportunity. I am eternally grateful to Mama Sana for sharing her knowledge and passion with me, and for opening my eyes to the rich and vibrant culinary traditions of Gambia.

As I sit here now, stirring a pot of simmering Jollof Rice on the stove, I can't help but smile as I think back to that fateful day in Banjul. The memory of discovering this recipe for the first time will always bring me joy, reminding me of the power of food to connect us to new cultures and experiences. And for that, I am truly thankful.


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