Jamie Oliver panned for ‘inauthentic’ African dish

Jamie Oliver did not claim his jollof rice, inset, is authentic but online critics are angry. Picture: Getty
Jamie Oliver did not claim his jollof rice, inset, is authentic but online critics are angry. Picture: Getty
Share this article
Have your say

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has come under fire from hundreds of Nigerians and Ghanaians for creating a recipe “inspired” by an iconic African dish.

Africans have taken to the internet to express their anger at Oliver’s version of “jollof rice”, a centuries-old dish originating in west Africa.

They claim the “inauthentic” recipe has insulted their ancestors. Writing on the Jamie 
Magazine website, readers branded the dish a “shame” on the TV chef.

Sugzshay said: “No, no, no, this is joll-NOT rice. For shame. My ancestors did not die for this nonsense. First Marco Pierre White with his nonsense ‘rice and peas’ now this? What next, pounded yam made with Smash?”

Another anonymous poster added: “My dear Sir, this (whatever this is) is ABSOLUTELY NOT 
jollof rice … you can call it ‘rice cooked in chicken broth’ or something but definitely not jollof rice.

“Don’t use your limited (more like NON-EXISTENT) knowledge of a people’s culture to bastardise their food and then proceed to slap their name on it. It is just not done … ”

Africans from other parts of the continent joined in. One online critic added: “I’m Namibian, and even I can see that this sorry excuse for a dish doesn’t even LOOK like jollof rice!

“How dare you sully the name of this very TASTY dish that my African brethren have perfected over the years. Total shame.”

Others were offended by the lack of Maggi stock cubes in the recipe – a staple part of the modern-day version of the dish. Other common ingredients include rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, onions and red pepper.

“Coriander, parsley and lemon wedge? You done crazy. We don’t use that crap and we blend our tomatoes and peppers not eat it whole,” said internet user Toks. “Where is the curry powder, thyme, crayfish powder and Maggi cubes?”

“Haha, so ‘Maggi cubes’ have been here for centuries too, right?” said ItsNeverThatSerious.

Chef Peter Ukonga, who serves a version of the dish at his restaurant, African Flavour Lounge, in Edinburgh, said: “You do not mess with this dish. Every African has been eating this for a long time – it is served at family occasions, weddings and so on.

“Everywhere you go where there is a celebration, there is a jollof rice. Therefore, everybody knows what it tastes like and what it looks like. If he has got that wrong, then it is no surprise people are upset.”

Miriam Yentumi, a Scot who has lived in Ghana for more than a decade, said the issue had dominated Ghanaian media since the recipe was posted.

“Food is central to Ghanaian culture and identity,” she said. “Jollof is sold on every corner and served at every occasion –and everyone has an opinion on how it should be prepared. And an opinion on where it originated – there are versions of the dish across the region, from 
Senegal to Nigeria.”

A spokeswoman for Jamie 
Oliver said: “Obviously, there was no intention to offend anyone, which is why the recipe printed on the Jamie Magazine website is described as ‘Jamie’s twist’ on jollof rice.”