Jollof rice is a dish appreciated all around the world thanks to its sweetness, which is usually accompanied by a nice aroma, spiciness, and vibrant orange color.
The Jollof battle has been going on for as long as I can remember. The citizens of all African countries making Jollof claim to hold the title of best Jollof rice maker. These battles are held on social media streets where banters, diss, and full essays on the deliciousness of their country’s Jollof rice.
To show you how serious this is, this battle is called The Jollof Rice Wars.
Podcasts have been aired, too. You cannot blame them for standing and defending their country’s national dish because when you have a taste of these Jollof rice dishes, you would be at a crossroads, too, and the only option you might be left with is choosing your country’s own.
One thing worthy of note is that all the Jollof rice of Africa have different preparation methods. And the way the rice is prepared gives it a distinct taste. This is why you can have a spoonful of Senegalese Jollof rice and know what exactly it is.
1. Nigerian Jollof
Nigerian Jollof, over the years, has proven itself to be the best Jollof rice there is, so it has to top the list because why not?
Nigerian Jollof is made with quite simple and easy-to-find ingredients such as long grain rice, blended fresh tomatoes and tomato purée, bell peppers, onions, spices, and meat.
These vegetables are first blended together before they are seared in a of vegetable or coconut oil with sliced onions to create the flavors. Afterward, meat broth is poured in and left to simmer for a while before the parboiled rice is introduced.
Some people like topping it with butter and diced onions before it is set down from the fire. Nigerian rice is usually left to cook for a long time. Sometimes, gets slightly burnt. This just solidifies the unique flavor.
2. Senegalese Jollof
After a UNESCO long, heated debate, UNESCO declared Senegalese Jollof rice the best in Africa. Officially known as Ceebu Jen in Wolof, the Senegalese rice has been declared a cultural heritage symbol.
This is because it is believed that all variations of Jollof rice descended from the Senegalese rice. So technically, this title was bestowed on them because they hold the origins of the dish and not necessarily because of taste. If you do not like fish, then Senegalese Jollof rice may not win the war for you because it is usually marinated in fish.
A special kind of rice called jasmine broken rice is used in the preparation of this dish:
- Parsley, black peppers, scotch bonnets, garlic, and salt are ground together.
- Two holes are poked in the fish, and this paste is stuffed in them.
- The fish is fried until golden brown.
- For the making of the rice itself, another set of spices is blended.
The same spices are used in stuffing the fish. Keep apart for a while before frying sliced onions, followed by tomato paste in vegetable oil.
When it has gotten a brown shade, the blended spices, vegetables, and fried fish go in after a while to simmer. When it has simmered, gently remove and add water and rice to the pot. Cool to your desired texture, and serve with your fish.
3. Ghanaian Jollof
Ghanaian Jollof is so good a song was made for it. However, the Nigerian and Ghanaian Jollof are quite similar. While the Nigerian Jollof is made with long grain rice, Ghanaians like making their Jollof rice with Jasmine Thai rice.
This is the major distinction between both dishes.
And trust me when I say this: Ghanaians are not shy at all with their spices. They use a whole lot of spices in their rice, such as bay leaves, ginger, garlic, rosemary, and even vegetables. This makes it one of the best Jollof dishes in Africa.
The beauty of their food is that they always know the correct measurements of the many spices they use. This balance gives off the perfect umami taste so prevalent in Ghanaian Jollof. When someone offers you a plate of Ghanaian Jollof rice, you will definitely see proteins such as beef, chicken, or even snails on it.
4. Gambian Jollof
Many people like to say that although Nigerians claim to cook the best Jollof in Africa, Gambians can give them a run for their money.
If there are two words Gambian Jollof rice can be described by, it is savory and versatile. This means if you want to prepare it, you can play with veggies and spices of your choice, and nothing will go wrong. This rice is called Benachin Jollof rice. In Wolof, Benachin translates to one pot.
This is because everything is made in the same pot. The Gambian Jollof rice can easily be made vegan. In place of meat, there are spices and vegetables that can be substituted. Vegetables such as eggplants, onions, and eggplants, amongst many others.
If you desperately need something to put on top of your rice, fried plantains are there for you. It is quite easy to prepare. Fry your chopped veggies and tomato paste in a pot of vegetable oil, add water or meat stock, put in your parboiled rice, stir, and let it cook. The end result solidifies its place in being one of the best Jollof rice in Africa.
5. Sierra Leonean Jollof
The Sierra Leonean Jollof is one of the best Jollof rice in Africa. It is a perfect combination of the Nigerian, Senegalese, and Gambian Jollof rice dishes. The Sierra Leonean Jollof rice does not need fish in its preparation.
Rather, it is substituted with other proteins such as chicken, beef, or Chevon. Sierra Leonean Jollof rice is quite generous with onions. If you do not like onions, you can pass on eating them. One of these days, when you find yourself in Sierra Leone, do not forget to eat their Jollof rice.
Jollof tastes great. You should try all.