Everything To Know About The Popular Delicacy, Jollof Rice As The World Marks ‘Jollof Rice Day’

All you should know about the history of Jollof Rice as the world marks 'World Jollof Rice' day.

jollof rice history

Jollof Rice History


World Jollof Rice Day marked August 22nd annually is a day set aside to celebrate the famous dish ‘Jollof Rice’. Since 2015, it has become a popular celebration not just in Africa but also in some parts of the world. In this post, we look at the history, origin, and common facts about Jollof rice.

Name and origin

The origin of Jollof Rice can be traced to the 14th century from the Senegambian region, a region in West Africa that cuts across Senegal and Gambia.

One of the most common dishes in West Africa, the name Jollof is derived from the name of the Wolof tribe (also called the Jolof Empire),  a West African ethnic group found in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania.

Types and Variants

Every West African country has its variation of Jollof (process or technique of preparation) including Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Togo, Cameroon as well as Mali.

Over the years, there has been a debate between Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone about which country’s jollof tastes the best tagged Jollof Wars. In January 2023, UNESCO ended the long-standing war involving these countries by declaring Senegal as the king of Jollof.

  • Nigerian jollof rice

Known for its smoky flavour, the Nigerian jollof rice is a favourite at parties, occasions, and events. The basic essential ingredients for Nigerian jollof rice are long-grain parboiled rice, tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper, vegetable oil, onions, and stock cubes, although there are variations based on individual references.

The majority of the ingredients are prepared in a single pot, which also serves as the base for the rich meat stock and fried tomato and pepper puree.

  • Senegalese jollof rice

The Senegalese version of Jollof rice is Thiéboudienne or Chebu Jen. Its origin can be traced to the coastal town of Saint Louis in Senegal in the nineteenth century. The emphasis on seafood is undoubtedly owing to the seaside influence given Saint Louis and other Senegalese cities were close to the sea.

The ingredients of Senegalese jollof rice typically comprise fish, rice, and vegetables (such as cassava, pumpkin, cabbage, carrot, turnip, or eggplant), parsley, tomato paste, peppers, garlic, and onions.

  • Ghanaian jollof rice

Ghanaian jollof rice is typically made with vegetable oil, onion, ginger, squeezed garlic cloves, chilies, tomato paste, cow or goat meat or chicken (sometimes substituted with mixed veggies), native or refined rice, often jasmine rice, and black pepper.

  • Liberian Jollof Rice

It is a tasty and famous West African meal with a distinct twist. Liberian Jollof Rice, with its rich and somewhat smoky flavor, is a beautiful blend of rice, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and spices that join together to produce a truly tasty and gratifying dinner.

  • Gambian jollof rice

Gambian jollof rice fondly called Benachin is a traditional dish that has become a popular addition in West African cuisines. Also called Senegambian jollof rice, It is made up of rice, vegetables, and meat that have all been cooked together.

Fun Facts

  • There is a dance that is done in honour of the cuisine.
  • The bottom of the jollof rice pot is more delicious compared to the top.
  • Rice cuisine originated as a fish-based meal. However, it is now common to find jollof rice garnished with meat, chicken, and other protein.
  • Because of the popularity of the dish, jollof rice festivals and events are a common phenomenon not just in Africa but also globally. Jollof food festivals have been held in Washington, DC, in the US, and Toronto, Canada.
  • On 3 November 2022, the dish was honoured with a Google Doodle.