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Jollof rice is the undisputed queen of West African kitchens, with its seductive aroma, deep-red colour, and spicy flavour. It’s a much-loved culinary treasure, as well as a dish from the depths of our hearts and souls. In West Africa, however, just saying the word “Jollof” can spark a fiery feud of passion. That’s because determining which West African country makes the best Jollof is a source of local pride and contention.

• Jollof rice is what paella is to Spain, risotto is to Italy, biryani is to India, and fried rice is to China.
• This rich, mouth-watering dish is served as a main course and consists of rice cooked in a flavourful sauce of tomatoes, onions, and aromatic spices. These base ingredients are frequently layered with ginger, garlic, thyme, grains of Selim (a West African spice), tomato puree, curry powder, and Scotch bonnet chillies, though the exact components and preparation vary by country and even from house to house.
• While each plate of Jollof is unique, the flavours are all interesting. Onion’s savoury sweetness is essential. Seasoning is critical. Every time, the choice of meat, whether mutton, beef, chicken, goat, lamb or even fish, add a distinct level of flavour.

Origin of Jollof rice
Jollof rice dates back to the 1300s in the old Wolof Empire (also known as the Jollof Empire), which included parts of modern-day Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauritania. Jollof evolved from thieboudienne, a rice, fish, shellfish, and vegetable dish.
The Wolof people migrated across the region and settled in various parts of West Africa as the empire expanded, bringing with them their exquisite rice meal. Despite its widespread availability, few foods have generated as much interest as Jollof rice.
The best part is that every West African country now has at least one Jollof variant, which both divides and unites the continent. Each nation and family add their twist and interpretation, which may be the source of the fierce competition taking place on social media, at parties, and in street-side chats.

The best Jollof rice
The top contenders in the race to see who can make the best Jollof rice are Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Cameroon. The Gambia and Senegal are unconcerned about the Jollof controversy; after all, they created it.
The Jollof feud between Ghana and Nigeria is arguably the most contentious food debate in any Diaspora. These two fervent nations appear to enjoy hating each other, and each believes their Jollof rice is the best. The primary distinction is the type of rice used. Ghanaians prefer aromatic basmati rice, which has a stronger flavour, whereas Nigerians prefer long-grain rice, which they believe has a higher absorption rate.

The growing interest in this dish and African foods, in general, is increasing. As the rest of the world is excited about embracing Jollof rice; West Africans see it as more than just a colourful and tasty rice dish to argue about: it connects to their rich heritage and is a dish that will live on in their hearts. The fire in the Jollof kitchen continues to rage even as we get closer.

Last Updated on August 13, 2021

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