- As the world marks Jollof Rice Day, here is all you should know about its origin, variants, facts etc
World Jollof Rice Day marked August 22nd annually is a day set aside to celebrate the famous dish ‘Jollof Rice’. Since 2015, it has become a popular celebration not just in Africa but also in some parts of the world.
In this post, we look at the origin, variants, and common facts about Jollof rice.
Name and origin
The origin of Jollof Rice can be traced to the 14th century from the Senegambian region, a region in West Africa that cuts across Senegal and Gambia.
One of the most common dishes in West Africa, the name Jollof is derived from the name of the Wolof tribe (also called the Jolof Empire), a West African ethnic group found in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania.
Types and Variants
Every West African country has its own variation of Jollof (process or technique of preparation) including Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Togo, Cameroon as well as Mali.
Over the years, there has been a debate between Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone about which country’s jollof tastes the best tagged Jollof Wars. In January 2023, UNESCO ended the long-standing war involving these countries by declaring Senegal as the king of Jollof.
Nigerian jollof rice
Known for its smoky flavour, the Nigerian jollof rice is a favourite at parties, occasions, and events. The basic essential ingredients for Nigerian jollof rice are long-grain parboiled rice, tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper, vegetable oil, onions, and stock cubes, although there are variations based on individual references.
The majority of the ingredients are prepared in a single pot, which also serves as the base for the rich meat stock and fried tomato and pepper puree.
Senegalese jollof rice
The Senegalese version of Jollof rice is Thiéboudienne or Chebu Jen. Its origin can be traced to the coastal town of Saint Louis in Senegal in the nineteenth century. The emphasis on seafood is undoubtedly owing to the seaside influence given Saint Louis and other Senegalese cities were close to the sea.
The ingredients of Senegalese jollof rice typically comprise fish, rice, and vegetables (such as cassava, pumpkin, cabbage, carrot, turnip, or eggplant), parsley, tomato paste, peppers, garlic, and onions.
Ghanaian jollof rice
Ghanaian jollof rice is typically made with vegetable oil, onion, ginger, squeezed garlic cloves, chillies, tomato paste, cow or goat meat or chicken (sometimes substituted with mixed veggies), native or refined rice, often jasmine rice, and black pepper.
- There is a dance that is done in the honour of the cuisine.
- The bottom of the jollof rice pot is more delicious compared to the top.
- Rice cuisine originated as a fish-based meal. However, it is now common to find jollof rice garnished with meat, chicken, and other protein.
- Because of the popularity of the dish, jollof rice festivals and events are a common phenomenon not just in Africa but also globally. Jollof food festivals have been held in Washington, DC, in the US, and Toronto, Canada.
- On 3 November 2022, the dish was honoured with a Google Doodle.
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