Today’s Nigerian rice & stew recipe has nothing to do with cupid but Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now and people sometimes ask me “When are you going to share Nigerian recipes?” I usually hem and haw around the answer for a few reasons. Firstly, we Nigerians can be a pretty critical people. And who wants to get dragged on the internet? Not me!

Secondly, everybody has their own way of doing things and I was nervous about sharing. The way my aunties taught me is likely at least a little different from how another person learned. Even from one aunty to another, it’s not the same! And as a dual culture kid, I’m far from an expert on Nigerian cuisine. Outside of basics like this rice and stew, dodo, or jollof, I mainly eat Nigerian food at family gatherings.

holding scotch bonnet pepper

Because of all this, I enlisted two of the star Naija chefs in my family to make sure I bring y’all the best representation of how we make Nigerian rice & stew in my family. My Aunty Toyin is the boss when it comes to jollof, pepper soup, and probably any other Nigerian delicacy you can imagine. I grew up living five minutes from her, so just about everything I know about Nigerian cooking is through observation in her kitchen. She knows what she’s doing and I wanted to do our family name some justice whenever I did share. I mean, she tasted a single grain from my first-ever batch of jollof (which I made in her kitchen, by the way) and said “It needs salt.” #goals

onion, peppers, and tomatoes in a blender

I also  called up my Aunty Faosat, who lives in Georgia, and she shared her tips from her perspective as a former restaurateur, which were so on point! She actually talked me through the batch you’ll see here over the phone. Now, I know that everyone may not be in agreement with the methods I share so I’m putting the disclaimer out there that this is how it’s done in my family. I’m also easing into things with a very basic recipe: rice and stew. The rice is self-explanatory but the stew is a classic. It’s actually the foundation for the coveted jollof rice that has recently become the topic of a foolish fiery debate between a few West African nations.

Spoiler alert: there really is no debate! Nigerians do jollof best. #sorrynotsorryClick To Tweet

Chicken drumsticks and onions cooking in oil

adding tomato paste to a pot of cooking veggie puree

How I Cook Nigerian Rice & Stew

Anyway, back to the recipe. There are two things you need to know about how my family does stew: spicy and thick. The longer you cook stew, the thicker it gets, as more and more of the water is released through steam from the blended veggies that form the base.

The flavor also deepens. We like ours cooked well (but not burned). We also enjoy a high spice level. The kick of heat in this Nigerian rice & stew is from habanero or scotch bonnet peppers and we toss in anywhere from two to four but feel free to dial that back (or up) as you see fit. If you’re unsure, you can also start out with just one pepper then add cayenne powder to taste as you go.

pot of Nigerian stew and chicken

spooning Nigerian red stew out of pot

We are about halfway through Black History Month and I plan to share another classic Nigerian recipe with you before the month is up. If it doesn’t make it before February 28th, I’ll still share. It has just been a very busy month, this week in particular with my housewarming on Saturday so please bear with me. 🙂 The remaining posts this week will be related to housewarming gifts and hosting, and the first peek at the house via my bathroom makeover!

I hope you’ll try this Nigerian rice & stew out and let me know your thoughts below. And sharing is caring so be sure to pin this recipe on Pinterest. Thanks for reading!

Nigerian Rice & Stew
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
45 mins

Here's how to make classic Nigerian red stew with chicken or the meat of your choice.

Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: African
Keyword: classic nigerian food, how to make nigerian stew, nigerian food recipes, nigerian stew recipe, red stew chicken recipe, west african recipes
Servings: 6 people
  • 6 Roma tomatoes cut in halves
  • 3/4 white onion divided
  • 1 green bell pepper seeded and cut in half
  • 2 habanero or scotch bonnet peppers
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • oil I use olive oil
  • 1 rounded tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 2 chicken bullion cubes crushed
  • curry powder to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • white pepper to taste
  • sea salt to taste
  • 6 pieces meat of your choice I used chicken drumsticks
  • 6 cups cooked rice I use brown rice
  1. Add tomatoes, peppers, 1/2 onion, and splash of water to a blender and liquefy. Set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, slice the remaining onion and add it, along with the oil, chicken, bullion,black pepper, and curry powder to another pot and cook over medium to medium-high heat for about ten minutes or until chicken begins to change color and release juices.

  3. Pour tomato mixture into pot of heated oil to cook the stir in tomato paste and sauce. Let this cook, stirring regularly and reduce heat to medium if it begins to splatter too much.

  4. After 10 minutes or so, the tomato mixture should become bubbly, thickened, and darker in color. Continue stirring to release more of the liquid. The oil that cooked the chicken will cook the raw tomato taste out of the stew.

  5. Next, taste test and salt the stew as necessary. The bullion has a lot of salt so you may not need to add much.

  6. Continue cooking until the stew reaches your desired consistency and some of the oil dissipates. If desired, spoon out any excess oil upon completion.

chicken and Nigerian red stew in pot