Shwen shwen jollof rice

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Maria Bradford's jollof rice recipe uses a medley of spices – grains of selim, cumin, coriander and a delicious blend of different peppercorns. This jollof rice is perfect paired with Maria's Shwen Shwen Beef Stew.

This recipe is taken from Sweet Salone by Maria Bradford (Quadrille, £30) Photography: Yuki Sugiura.

First published in 2023

Maria says: 'Jollof, or jollof rice, is a rice dish from West Africa. The origins of jollof rice can be traced to the Senegambian region that was ruled by the Wolof or Jolof Empire in the 14th century. Although these days most countries in West Africa have their own version of jollof rice, it is a widely accepted fact that Sierra Leonean jollof is the best in the whole of West Africa. Ask any Sierra Leonean and they will tell you that is true. However, this is not just any jollof. This is Shwen Shwen jollof and I have added in some additional spices.'




West African pepper blend

Jollof rice



Toast all the peppercorns for the West African pepper blend in a dry pan over a medium heat until fragrant. Allow to cool then grind in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Store in an airtight jar. It will stay fresh for up to three months


Toast the whole spices in a hot, dry frying pan until fragrant, then grind in a pestle and mortar or food processor. Mix with the ground spices


Blend the ginger, garlic and Scotch bonnet chilli to a paste in a food processor.
Set aside


Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan with a lid. Add the onions and cook on
a gentle heat, stirring from time to time, until they are soft and golden brown,
20–30 minutes

  • 100ml of sunflower oil
  • 500g of red onion, about 2 large, finely chopped

While the onions are cooking, put the rice in a large bowl, cover with cold water
and use your hands to rinse the grains. Tip the water out and repeat 2–3 times
until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside


Add the ginger, garlic and chilli blend to the pan with the onions and cook for
2–3 minutes, turning the heat down if it starts to stick


Add the spices to the pan and cook for a further 1–2 minutes, then add the
chopped tomatoes, tomato purée (paste) and herbs. Cook for 3–5 minutes to get all the flavours to marry together, then add the drained rice. Stir well, making sure the rice is coated in the tomato base, for 5–10 minutes on gentle heat


Add the stock a bit at a time, covering the pan between additions and cooking until all the stock has been absorbed. Check after 5 minutes and add more stock as needed. You want your rice to be cooked through but nice and fluffy. This process takes 30 minutes and cannot be rushed. When the rice is cooked but still a little al-dente, taste and season with smoked salt

First published in 2023

Maria Bradford, born and raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone, is the founder of and head chef at Shwen Shwen, a catering company serving Sierra Leonean and Afro-fusion cuisine. Her debut cookbook Sweet Salone was released in 2023, and she sells her own product range online.

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