Let’s face it. Kenyan’s love Jollof rice! Whether it’s the Nigerian version or the Ghanian version, we just can’t get enough of the stuff. So here’s a great recipe to accompany your nyama or stew!

In each and every one of us there is a deeper craving for an exotic dish – something new,  unique and magical. it is about time I show you how to cook your own homemade salivating-worthy Nigerian Jollof rice. Maybe you have heard of the dish or tried it before when you visited your Nigerian friend or attended a Nigerian wedding. The flavours stayed in your memory and just the idea of it makes you go hungry but you just don’t know how to make it yourself.

Worry no more for this is the complete guide which will provide you everything you will need to know about creating your own flavoursome and flavorful Nigerian Jollof rice. It all boils down to fiercely held regional preferences whether to include Okra, or Plantain or Fish, all of these different recipes have something in common – they are all yummy!! This is the reason Jollof rice is still among the most loved Nigerian dishes and among the greatest dishes the rest of the world ought to try. So good that Buzzfeedlisted it as the number one food out of the 23 Nigerian foods the whole world should know and love

 

SO WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL WITH NIGERIAN JOLLOF RICE?

Within every community there’s that one “dish”, so sacred that the recipe has been passed down to each new generation. It’s made of a range of ingredients including rice, tomatoes, tomato paste and variations of different meat and spices like nutmeg, cumin and ginger and vegetables. It is thought to have originated in the Wolof tribe in Senegal, once a great empire stretching into parts of Gambia.(but more on this later!)

This African American dish has been a excellent source of many debates and discussions in West Africa. As a result of various versions each country appears to have, a few of which have been known as “inauthentic” recipes. For example in Ghana it is eaten on its own or with fried, ripe plantain adding green, leafy plants aka you veggies is frowned upon. Other French speaking neighbouring countries like Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal and Mali would be offended at the sight of one mixing Jollof rice with okra  – they would consider it “heresy.”

Whether there’ll ever be an agreement about what the “authentic” recipe is you can’t deny the simple truth that Jollof rice is to Nigeria as what hot dogs are to America and fish and chips to the British. It’s ingrained in the identity of the country, and more as a people. It is the dish that many Nigerians (native and foreign) will identify with as part of their culture.

The truth is there’s not any Nigerian ceremony or party without Jollof rice-none. If you’re the event planner and exclude this from the menu, you’re doing this at your own peril. One thing is for sure though Jollof rice brings more Nigerians together than even religion and that is the reason why it continues to top Nigerian food lists and in fact most African parties food list whether Southern, Northern, Eastern and naturally Western Africa.

Disclaimer: This is a very long post so you might want to use the Content’s table below to skip to the sections you are after.

A SHORT HISTORY LESSON ABOUT JOLLOF RICE.

Jollof rice is among the most common dishes in Western Africa, absorbed throughout the area such as Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Togo, Cameroon and Mali. There are lots of regional variations in ingredients and name, with non-local versions regarded as “inauthentic”. The title Jollof rice derives from the the Wolof people, a west African ethnic group found in northwestern Senegal, The Gambia, and southwestern coastal Mauritania although it could be confusing to know that in Senegal and Gambia the dish is known in Wolof as the ibou dienne or benachin. In French-speaking areas, it is called as riz au gras(You have to love the way it sounds in french!)

According to its name, the sources of Jollof rice could be traced to the Senegambian region that was dominated by the Wolof Empire. Food and agriculture historian James C. McCann believes this claim is plausible given the prevalence of rice in the upper Niger valley, but believes it improbable that the dish could have spread from Senegal to its present range because such a diffusion isn’t seen in “linguistic, cultural or historical patterns”. Instead he suggests that the dish propagate with the Mali empire, notably the Djula tradespeople who spread broadly to the regional urban and commercial centres, taking with them economical arts of “blacksmiths, small marketing, and rice agronomy” and the faith of Islam.

 

WHY DO GHANAIAN AND NIGERIANS CLASH ABOUT THE BEST JOLLOF RICE?

There are numerous areas in Africa who debate within the geographic sources of Jollof rice. However, among the most vigorous Jollof rice rivalries has been between Nigerians and Ghanaian. The principal argument in this debate is presently centred on which nation’s Jollof rice tastes better. The reason behind the debate is a result of the massive popularity of Jollof rice, in relation to West African cuisine, and the longstanding rivalries between Ghana and Nigeria as Anglophone West African countries. Both Nigeria and Ghana have demonstrated consistent competitiveness within the argument as to who will serve the dish the best. The argument has gone so far as to having organized competition shows, in order for famous critics from all around the world to taste, analyze the differences, and provide their overall judgements on both types of the dish. Lately, social media has also become a favorite tool for individuals to share pictures, and remarks on who serves the dish the best.

Ghanaian Jollof rice is mainly composed of vegetable oil, onion, bell pepper, cloves of pressed garlic, chillies, tomato paste, beef or chicken (sometimes alternated with mixed veggies), jasmine or basmati rice and black pepper. It is not so dissimilar to the Nigerian counterpart (to the non-Ghanaian or Nigerian ofcourse!) The technique of cooking Jollof rice starts with first preparing the beef or poultry by seasoning and skillet until it’s cooked. The remaining ingredients are then fried entirely, beginning out of onions, tomatoes and spices in that order. After all the ingredients are fried, rice is then added and cooked until the meal is ready. Ghanaian Jollof is typically served with side dishes of beef or chicken or well-seasoned and fried fish or mixed vegetables.

In my personal opinion I find the Ghanaian Jollof rice to be more dry and spicy – it just sizzles in your mouth. I say dry because they do not usually serve it with plantains unlike Nigerian Jollof rice. I prefer both because I love them both!

WHO SHOULD BE READING THIS?

Whether you are born to Nigerian parents or are of Nigerian heritage being able to make Jollof rice is something you would naturally be expected to be able to do it comes in handy for when there is a family gathering to celebrate a graduation, a birth or a birthday.

On the other hand you have busy people, be it professionals or students who making jollof rice will be a massive time saver dish because it can be made over a relaxed weekend and stored in the freezer to last throughout the week. The spices used in the dish go a long way to helping preserve the food throughout the week (You can thank the Egyptians for the art of preservation)

African food is the next gastronomic trend and as a foodie this is one dish you will want to be able to make. Nigerian jollof rice is full of flavours, has a lot of variety and is already being served at some top notch restaurants in major cities such as London and New York (There is a festival celebrating Nigerian cuisines in New York – keep reading to find out about it)