Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Chicken and Rice Jollof and a Book Review

This aromatic and lightly spiced version of Jollof is a wonderful one pot meal.  If you like heat you can always add a scotch bonnet pepper to this recipe.

Chicken and Rice Jollof

I was inspired to make this Ghanian dish after reading the novel Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi.  This is a fictional book but Gyasi has written with the background of her own experiences.  Like protagonist, Gifty, Gyasi's family emigrated to Alabama USA from Ghana.

Transcendent Kingdom

Gifty was born here in the USA but her brother, Nana was born in Ghana.  Gifty's mother emigrated here with Nana in an attempt to give him the best chance in life that she could.  Gifty's father, followed after her mother got a job caretaking for the elderly and sent him the money to join her.  Gifty's father, who she only remembers as the Chin Chin Man.....leaves the family to go back to Ghana for a visit and never returns when Gifty is only 6 years old.

Gifty's brother is a promising basketball player who is being sought after by several colleges, when he injures his ankle and becomes addicted to opioids.  This addiction, that consumes Gifty and her mother along with Nana, results in his overdose and death.  This death completely destroys Gifty's mother, who takes to her bed in depression.  Gifty hides this depression from everyone and at 11 years of age starts taking care of her mom.  One day Gifty comes home to find her mother had attempted suicide.  Her mother ends up in the hospital and Gifty is sent to her aunt in Ghana until the mother is well enough to care for Gifty again.

Gifty is extremely bright and becomes a scientist who dedicates her life and career to finding a way to overcome addiction.  She moves to the west coast and has limited contact with her mother, having fallen away from the church and God, that is her mother's main focus in life.  Her mother suffers another breakdown and Gifty sends for her to come live with her in California.

Gifty's mother again takes to the bed and Gifty spends weeks speaking to her back.  Her mother seems to come alive a bit and one day Gifty comes home to a house that smells of Fried Plantains and Jollof.  Her mother is up, cooking and scolding Gifty for not having proper groceries in the house.  The reprieve is short lived however and her mother soon returns to bed.....

This novel hits on so many different themes....being black in the south, religion, addiction, depression, divorce.....Things that affect so many families around the world.  I loved the open, honest way that the author handled these situations and Gifty's response to them all.  I wanted to take Gifty off of the page and enfold her in a hug, assuring her that "Everything is going to be okay" her mother would assure Nana when he was detoxing and so very sick.

Fried Plantains

I had already shared a recipe for Fried Plantains with you so I decided to make this one pot Chicken and Rice Jollof to share with you today.  I this recipe from one over at Panning the Globe. The author had taken the recipe from The Ghana Cookbook.   I hope you enjoy it.......

Chicken and Rice Jollof pin

I enjoyed this novel very much.  I recommed it for those of you that find yourself having to deal with the trauma that life hands to us.  It's a nice reminder that we are stronger and more resilient than we believe.....

Casseroles, One Pot Meals, Chicken, Rice, Curry,
Entrees, Casseroles, Chicken, Rice
Yield: 4 servings
Author: Wendy Klik
Chicken and Rice Jollof

Chicken and Rice Jollof

This aromatic and lightly spiced version of Jollof is a wonderful one pot meal. If you like heat you can always add a scotch bonnet pepper to this recipe.
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 1 HourTotal time: 1 H & 10 M


  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size dice
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1 T. ginger paste
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 t. crushed red pepper
  • 3 grinds black pepper
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 2 carrots, scraped and sliced
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1/2 t. mild curry powder
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 c. chicken broth, divided
  • 1 c. long grain brown rice
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato puree
  • 1/2 c. frozen peas


  1. Toss the chicken with the garlic, ginger, salt, crushed red pepper and black pepper.  Set aside while you prepare the remaining vegetables.
  2. Heat the oil in a dutch oven over med high heat.  Add the chicken and cook, tossing until browned.  Add the onions, bell pepper and carrots.  Cook and stir until they start to soften.   Stir in the curry powder and tomato paste.  Add 2 cups of the chicken stock and bay leaf along with the brown rice and tomato puree.  Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil.
  3. Cover and place in a preheated 350* oven for half an hour.  Remove lid, stir in the peas and add more chicken stock if needed.  Cover and return to oven for another half an hour, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.


Adapted from a recipe found at Panning the Globe



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  1. I made some jollof years ago in a group cooking global recipes. It's been so long. I loved the warm spices. This cold time of year it would be perfect for a full course African meal. Transport us to another continent right from our kitchen. Thanks for sharing, and I will hunt for the book to curl up with in my big chair with a nice cup of tea.

    1. It is perfect weather for both the book and the tea....The African party sounds nice too, especially since we are visiting Sudan with Eat the World.

  2. Your review of the book is very fascinating. It sounds like a wonderful story.

    be safe... mae at

    1. I wouldn't call it wonderful, it was very true to life while dealing with addiction, depression and abandonment but it did keep my interest and was a good read.

  3. I have mixed feelings about reading this book, it sounds full of pain and grief. Though your Jollof would be a very comforting meal for anyone.

    1. It had happy moments as was very realistic, I felt as if I were reading a biography.


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