Getting to know Africa includes experiencing the vastly different – and yummy – expressions of each culture through food.
We love to read Jamie Oliver’s recipes because we always learn something from them other than just the ingredients and instructions. Jamie uses food to tell a story – about where the recipe came from, the diaspora of people and the spread of cultures (and therefore their cuisine). He makes food interesting and we follow him closely.
So, although we’d been making this recipe for years and years, we suddenly thought “why is it called Jollof Chicken & Rice”. So we turned to Jamie Oliver to find out why! His explanation follows:
“Jollof rice is more of a concept than a recipe, because it’s found in various guises all over West Africa. Its other name is Benachin, which means “one pot” in the language of the Wolof people who invented it – evidently throwing lots of lovely food in a pan and letting the heat do its thing has always been a popular cheat.”
The Wolof people ruled in what is now known as Senegal (1360 to 1549). They were quite powerful and wealthy and before their empire disintegrated, The Wolof traded with Europe. Before their kingdom disappeared, The Wolof spread through travel, trading with others and conquests.
As a result, Jollof Rice is a popular dish in Ghana – over 2,000 km from The Wolof homeland in Senegal. It is also found in Nigeria and Cameroon. This “spread” of the recipe has resulted in varying ingredients but the basic recipe has stayed pretty much the same.
Jamie Oliver often says that “the devil is in the detail” and recommends using the best ingredients you can find and ensuring you use long grain rice. Jamie’s recipe is amazing – we highly recommend checking it out!
Here’s an interesting fact! The word Ghana means “warrior king”, so they can probably stand the heat of the Scotch Bonnet Pepper often used in this delicious dish.
Our family recipe doesn’t include a Scotch Bonnet Pepper, although we have prepared this dish with one in the past. We warn you, it does add quite a bit of heat!