This past weekend, I joined hundreds of my fellow New Yorkers at the New York City African Food Festival, where we determined which country will be handed the crown for the best Jollof, a spicy tomato-based rice meal that originates in West Africa.
Based on its name, the origins of Jollof rice can be traced back to the Senegambian region that was ruled by the Jolof Empire, a West African state that ruled parts of Senegal from 1350 to 1549. There are multiple regions in Africa who debate over the geographical origins of Jollof rice. However, one of the most vigorous Jollof rice rivalries has always been between Nigerians and Ghanaians. These two do not debate origin, but rather taste.
The contest, which was held at the Duggal Greenhouse in Brooklyn Navy Yard, July 23rd, was judged by professional chefs, but the contestants are amateurs, chosen to represent their home countries. To guarantee an authentic home cooked experience, the dishes were graded solely based on taste and not on presentation. Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Kenya were some of the countries present.