Jollof rice. Is it Nigerian? Is it Ghanaian? According to UNESCO, the highly-popular and hotly contested West African dish actually originates from Senegal. Arguments about where jollof rice comes from – and which country makes the best – have been going on for longer than most of us can remember. One thing that’s not up for debate, though, is how delicious that rice dish is. A good jollof, like the kind you might find at street food specialists Jollof Mama, will always have the right balance of sweet, savoury, and spicy as well as an addictively fluffy texture. It won’t be gummy, it won’t blow your head off, and it won’t sit heavy in your stomach all night. The sign of a good jollof is how easy it is to eat, making it an ideal dish for lining your stomach for a night of drinking or sharing with your friends and family.
The recipe for the jollof rice at Akoko – a West African restaurant in Fitzrovia that serves jollof alongside grilled blue lobster and a perfectly balanced carrot sauce – is based on founder Aji Akokomi’s family recipe. In order to help us (and you) better understand how to cook jollof rice, we asked Aji some important questions about everyone’s favourite rice dish.