The recipe is deceptively simple: take an umami-rich tomato-based stew. Add just enough rice. Garnish at will.
This is the basic outline of jollof, one of West Africa’s most beloved dishes, easy to cook up but hard to perfect. Like mac and cheese or chilli, it’s ubiquitous, homey, and everyone swears they’ve got the perfect version. Jollof Festival celebrates this favorite, which appears on tables from Senegal to Cameroon, by inviting chefs to come together and contest for whose jollof rules.
Interest in African cuisine, part of a growing fascination with the culture and style of the extremely diverse continent, urged Osekre and his fellow organizers to create the event, which allows jollof masters to face off, while visitors sample different versions of the dish and its accompanying sides. “The sides really reflect the local flavors,” explains Osekre. “They showcase the ingredients and tastes from different parts of the region.” The festival will feature vendors representing eight different countries, each with their own jollof spin.