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Creamy Jollof-Inspired Naija Risotto

Italian risotto with a Naija twist! This is a lazy girl version of a jollof recipe I developed for Buzzfeed Tasty a few years back. The OG recipe I wrote has that FULL jollof flavor, so we'll call this one ‘jollof lite’.

I love developing recipes that carry my culture into my everyday cooking. The foundation of Nigerian jollof rice is a thick, rich, and creamy stew made from peppers, tomatoes, spicy chili, and aromatics. This is a classic flavor combination that works so well in a variety of dishes, not just Nigerian ones!

So when I'm craving a creamy bowl of risotto, it makes so much sense to me to also bring in these flavors, because — duh — it's also rice!

But making stew is a labor of love, so this version uses my simple ingredient cheats like jarred roasted peppers and tomato paste. They provide the essence of the classic stew, while keeping it a quick and simple weeknight meal.


2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 roasted red bell pepper (from a jar preferred)

1/2 habanero or scotch bonnet pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, finely diced

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 cup Arborio rice

1/4 cup white wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt to taste

Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

  1. Start by preparing your hot stock. You can warm it in a saucepan and keep it simmering on the stove.

  2. In a mini food processor, blend the roasted red bell pepper and habanero pepper (seeds removed for less heat) into a smooth paste. Set aside.

  3. In a large skillet or wide saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until they become translucent and softened, about 3 to 4 minutes.

  4. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it darkens to a brick-red color and the oil starts to separate, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

  5. Add the curry powder, dried thyme, sliced garlic, and the blended red pepper mixture to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens and the liquid from the peppers has evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes.

  6. Now, add the Arborio rice to the skillet. Stir well to coat the rice with the flavorful pepper and tomato mixture.

  7. Pour in the white wine and cook, stirring, until most of the wine is absorbed by the rice, about 2 minutes.

  8. Begin adding the hot stock one ladleful at a time, stirring constantly. Allow the liquid to be absorbed before adding more stock. Continue this process until the rice is creamy and cooked to your desired level of doneness. This should take about 18 to 20 minutes.

  9. Once the risotto is cooked to your liking, remove it from the heat. Stir in the unsalted butter and a handful of grated Parmesan to make it rich and creamy. Season with salt to taste.

  10. Serve the risotto in individual bowls, topped with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. You can also offer more Parmesan at the table for extra flavor.



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