Forget Risotto — Try These African Rice Dishes Instead!

Rice is a staple food in most African cultures. 11 million tons of milled rice are consumed every year on the continent, and over 3 million tons of that is imported. So it should come as no surprise that there are a million different ways to prepare rice, African-style.

So, if you thought risotto was the ultimate in comforting rice dishes, these African recipes with that tasty little carb will make you change your mind. Either try them when you’re traveling, or make them at home with the helpful recipe links we’ve provided.

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African Jollof Rice

The trick to this recipe from is to really let the rice soak up the tomatoes, so it’s moist and flavorful. Smaller vegetables are great in rice dishes because every bite is balanced, so the beans and peas are perfect here. You can easily add any protein you’d like to this dish, from tofu to lamb to fish.

Cashew Nut Pilau

This is a spin on a Tanzanian dish from and it calls for a lot of different herbs and spices. The standout ingredients are the nuts and the coconut milk, which make this a predominantly sweet and moist dish. Since there are no chunky ingredients like veggies or meat here, it can easily be the base for another dish with a hearty sauce.

Hot Rice Salad

This “salad” calls for bacon: need we see more? The sunflower oil is a nice change from olive oil, giving a nice semi-sweet flavor to the smoky rice. For a rice dish, the ingredients list is pretty short so it’s a good dish when you’re in a rush but want to impress guests. We found this at

Yellow Rice

A popular dish of the Cape Malay, this recipe has plenty of traditional African flavors like turmeric and curries, which give it a happy yellow hue. We love the sweetness of the raisins, which become even more flavorful when they heat up in the rice. This is a great side dish for lamb or beef.

Coconut Rice

If you really want to get creative with presentation, you can serve this rice in half a coconut, like it’s done on The coconut flavor really permeates this rice, so it remains sweet even after you add the chicken stock. It’s a very simple recipe that consists mainly of coconut milk, chicken stock and the rice. This tastes great with white fish or chicken.

Ghanaian Rice and Peas

This is such a unique dish. It calls for millet stems to give the rice that warm, brown color, and it’s meant to be rather mushy, so it has a rice pudding consistency. The vegetable stock gives it a nice salty flavor, and the black eye beans add a chunky texture. We found this recipe at Definitely serve this as a side dish by itself and not as a base—it doesn’t need to soak up any more sauces because it has plenty of flavor on its own.

North African Rice Pudding

This recipe from should be cooked very slowly, so the rice becomes as mushy and creamy as possible. It’s similar to rice pudding you’re probably familiar with, but has a wonderful zest from the orange flower water (sometimes rose water) and a satisfying crunch from the pistachios and crystalized rose petals. It’s a very pretty dish for when you’re looking to impress dinner guests.

Tempeh Vegan Jollof Rice

We already introduced jollof rice earlier in this article, but this is a heartier variety that can easily be a main course. It’s packed with vegetables like chopped green beans, diced zucchini and diced carrots, and then it has delicious little tempeh squares for protein. The mild flavor and soft consistency of the tempeh soak up the garlic and spices really well in this dish. We found this at


Rice and pasta in the same dish? That’s a carb-lover’s heaven! And it’s in this traditional Egyptian recipe from It’s a simple dish flavored mainly with garlic and red pepper flakes, but do you really want a bunch of flavors taking away from that comforting taste of starch on starch? Of course not.

African Caribbean Shrimp Fried Rice

This wouldn’t be a complete list of rice recipes without a fried rice dish! This dish from is easy to make, and similar to most fried rice you’ve had at Asian restaurants, except that it incorporates curry powder making it a little brighter and spicier.

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