Food musings: JOLLOF OR WHAT YOU WILL
Jollof rice is a household staple in many an African home. The flavor and style of delivery may differ from region to region depending on the palate predominant to the area. However, rumor has it that the Nigerian flavor is unparalleled. Even BBC’s own Jamie Oliver –a renowned British Chef- has been known to recreate this delicacy ‘European style’ and eventually produced a result so different from the original jollof, that it seemed almost Mediterranean. Social media erupted in outrage at this varied departure from the well known and much-loved Jollof recipe, that some even claimed that African ancestors would be turning in their graves at this travesty because according to them, Oliver had “slaughtered West African culture with his makeshift recipe”.
Most agree that an authentic recipe requires certain essential building blocks which include the following ingredients: Parboiled long/medium grain rice, tomato paste, whole tomatoes, a red capsicum, scotch bonnets, vegetable oil, stock, onion, thyme, ground crayfish and curry powder. But hold that thought… it may prove interesting to touch on the origin of this highly sought after food?
Jollof rice can supposedly be traced back to the Jolof (Djolof/Wollof) Empire once situated in the Senegambia (Senegal/Gambia region) also known as Benachin. Thiéboudienne, as the delicacy is fondly called in Senegal was rumored to have been a dish prepared with barley, fish and vegetables for only the most special guests. At the time, a Senegalese woman who ran out of barley due to a scarcity of the grain, decided to use rice instead and thus, Jollof Rice was born. The American Food and agriculture historian James C. McCann has claimed this theory was plausible based on the popularity of rice in the upper Niger valley.
Countries that make Jollof
They are mainly of the Western African region. Pay attention to the first country!
• Sierra Leone
• Ivory Coast
Here are ten (10) things, you may not know about Jollof Rice;
• The rice cuisine that is now called Jollof rice is originally from the Wolof tribe that’s cuts across the Gambia and Senegal.
• The rice cuisine is originally a fish-based recipe. But now, it’s normal to find Jollof rice as chicken garnished.
• The Wolof rice which is now called Jollof rice is not a morning meal. It’s an evening meal.
• The major ingredients for the meal are the tomato sauce. It gives rice to its redness.
• Many of us don’t know that palm oil and tea-bush leaves are also part of the ingredients used for the preparation of Jollof rice.
• There is a dance that is done in honor of the cuisine.
• The bottom of the Jollof rice pot is more delicious compared to the top and the burnt smoky taste and aroma makes it even more Jollof.
• Homemade Jollof is not as delicious as the party made Jollof rice because the latter is fully spiced with lots of condiments.
• Jollof rice is better eaten when hot, I mean steaming hot.
22nd August 2017 is World Jollof Rice Day. First celebrated in 2015 by an unknown originator, calls continue for the UN to make the day official since millions of people consume and love this unforgettable dish.