Haringey Community Press

Haringey Community Press

Junior jollof chefs

Junior jollof chefs: Local youth learn about popular West African rice dish

Hero for Junior jollof chefs
The junior jollof chefs Credit: Jo Narkz and Yasmin Anang

Local youth learn about popular West African rice dish

By Shirley Boateng, founder of Simpley Shirley’s

In June, an event designed to give the young generation the opportunity to experience cooking jollof rice with ease, took place at the Engine Room, Hale Village.

23 junior jollof chefs, aged 11+, from all multicultural backgrounds, took on the quick and fun task of cooking jollof rice in a conventional way, as part of Simply Shirley’s life skill programme. The majority of the young people have now taken the skill home, using Simply Shirley’s jollof paste to make the dish with confidence.

Simply Shirley’s jollof paste has made it easy for anyone who loves jollof rice to cook it at home like a professional within 35 minutes without compromising on the authentic taste and flavours of West Africa. It would usually take around two hours to prepare and cook jollof rice, however, the art and skill of making the meal is now gifted in a jar. The versatility of the product means it can be used to marinate, stir fry vegetables, create pasta sauces, stews, and pizza bases.

Jollof rice is a mild-spicy aromatic tomato-based stew cooked together with rice, onions, herbs, spices, vegetables and meat – the ingredients vary across regions and countries.

The dish originates from the Senegambia region of West Africa, in the ancient Wolof or Jolof Empire (between the 14th and 16th centuries). The dish is called Benachin is this region; neighbouring West African countries have since adapted this well-loved one-pot recipe, putting their own stamp on it. This has led to debatable banter about which country has the best jollof rice, gathering great media attention.

Locally, Simply Shirley’s jollof paste is making a difference in the community by bringing an award winning, innovative, and versatile product to the market that encourages local people to explore West African cuisine at their convenience.

The junior jollof chef cooking event was a great success because it inspired local people wanting to start their own businesses to “start as they mean to grow, and to do it all with excellence.” It also helped young people to start cooking early, as this is something they would often leave to their parents and relatives to do, or instead preferring to buy from a takeaway. Now, they’ve learnt the life skill of cooking, and they know the history of jollof rice and how it has now evolved into a paste product that was started in Tottenham, and is expanding nationwide.

For more information, visit: www.simplyshirleys.com