Foodies in the house, get in here. Yesterday, 22nd of August was world jollof rice day. Did you celebrate it? I sure did! I ate jollof rice to my fill. We all talk about this wonderful meal but how many of us knows the history? Below, we will be talking about the history of the jollof.
There is a lot of argument from East to West about whose Jollof Rice is the best.
I find it a question of little consequence.
I believe that each country has a unique offering and interpretation of Jollof even though the basic ingredients remain the same: rice, tomatoes, onions, scotch bonnet peppers and spices.
READ ALSO: TIPS FOR THE PERFECT JOLLOF RICE
There is some consensus that Jollof rice is an ancient gift from the Wolof – an ethnic group across Senegal, The Gambia and Mauritania. A gift that has its seeds sprinkled, like fine grain along the coast of West Africa.
The Wolof Empire was a medieval West African state that ruled parts of Senegal and the Gambia from approximately 1350 to 1890. By the end of the 15th century, the Wolof states of Jolof, Kayor, Baol and Walo had become united in a federation, with Jollof as the metropolitan power.
Thus, it isn’t hard to imagine a dish of this importance named after the ‘power’ – Jolof.
At that time, the region – from the Gambia River to Liberia was also known as the Grain or Rice coast because rice, millet and other grains were farmed grown along the banks of the Senegal River. Judith A. Carney in her book, ‘Black rice, the African Origins of rice cultivation in the Americas’ writes of the Senegal River as being an established Portuguese trading port where goods and services were exchanged.
It is possible that home-grown rice was combined with foreign food staples like tomatoes from the New World to birth Jollof rice.
Is it surprising that in Senegal – its home, Jollof Rice doesn’t go by the name? Instead it is called thieboudienne or Ceebu jën, often cooked with fish.
All in all, this dish originated from Senegal but has taken root in some countries in Africa and there is no taking it back. It is Jollof and it’s here to stay
Excerpts culled from kitchenbutterfly