What Is Jollof Rice?
Essentially, Jollof rice is a tasty hybrid of rice and stew–my two favorite food groups. Liberally spiced rice is stewed in a rich tomato sauce, with fish, vegetables, and meats added for additional flavor and nutrients. It’s a bright, colorful dish that’s relatively easy to make and yields a ton of delicious leftovers. My latest batch honestly lasted longer than some of my relationships. And I never got sick of it. Yes, vegan versions do exist. Yes, I will be giving you the recipe.
Origins and Regional Variations
The origins of Jollof rice can be traced back to the Wolof people of Senegal (“Jollof” being a derivation of “Wolof”), but it is now a staple in many West African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Each country has its own variation of this classic dish. Perhaps you’ve heard of the “Hummus Wars”: the ongoing debate about which Middle Eastern Country makes the best hummus? Well, add to the list of culinary conflicts the “Jollof Wars.” While several West African countries swear by their version of Jollof rice, the main rivalry is between Nigeria and Ghana.
The main difference between the two variations is that Ghanaians tend to use basmati rice, while Nigerians tend to use the long-grain rice I wrote about earlier. Aside from that, Nigerian recipes tend to be spicier, since they call for more chilis like scotch bonnets and bird’s eye chili. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, and know about all my fiery forays into spicy cuisine, you can probably guess which version I prefer.
Jollof Rice Makes a Nutritious Meal
Apart from being delicious, Jollof rice also makes a very nutritious meal, since it’s a great source of carbohydrates and proteins. Jollof rice is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and magnesium. Vitamin A is important for eye health, while vitamin C helps to boost the immune system, especially important when traveling. Iron is essential for the production of red blood cells, while magnesium is important for bone health. Honestly, reading the list of vitamins and minerals in Jollof rice, I almost feel like I’m browsing at a GNC store. And I’m all for it.
How to Eat Jollof Rice
You’ll find Jollof rice all over Nigeria and it’s almost guaranteed to make a tasty appearance at parties and social gatherings. It can be eaten with a spoon, but cutting out the “middleman” and going straight in with your hands is OK too. In Nigeria, it is often eaten with a side of fried plantains and a wet salad resembling coleslaw.
Of course, as I found out, the best way to eat Jollof rice is as often as possible. Trust me, you’re going to want to. And with my easy vegan Jollof rice recipe, you’ll be able to whip it up whenever you get a craving. Speaking of which, my tiny kitchen is calling…
If you enjoyed this recipe or have suggestions on how we can improve it, please leave us a comment below. Also, make sure to check out other dishes I’ve created or stories I’ve written about food culture – here.