Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice does not go down well with West Africans

Quirky interpretation of famed dish has attracted around 4,500 comments on social media

Chef Jamie Oliver has enraged West Africans by cooking up his own “interpretation” of a classic dish.

Oliver’s version of Jollof rice, which is famed in the region, led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website with food pundits saying they were “surprised” at the recipe.

The rice is traditionally made with tomatoes and spices, but the television cook’s version included whole vegetables such as “on the vine” cherry tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and scotch bonnet. It went on to advise readers to use coriander, parsley, and a slice of lemon, none of which are usually associated with the recipe.

It went unnoticed for months after being posted in June, but furious comments began appearing on the website last week before social media users joined in the conversation. Now, the quirky recipe has attracted around 4,500 comments.

In the past 24 hours Twitter users have started labelling the scandal #jollofgate, after it sparked a flurry of criticism.

The Motley Musings blog, which discusses how Africa is represented in popular culture, wrote: “People were surprised that this recipe was so much different to the original.”

The blog warned that people in West Africa took their food seriously.

Oliver said that he had created his interpretation after considering many traditional variations of the rice.

The blogger continued: “We have to ask ourselves who actually benefits from Jamie Oliver's 'appreciation' of Jollof rice. This doesn't necessarily translate into value for Africans. For so long, different African cultures have been appropriated without any direct benefit to Africans themselves, and people are particularly sensitive to this.”

BBC Africa’s Vera Kwakofi said increased exposure of the dish wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

“The danger is that in five years his version will become the official one,” she said.

Jollof rice also caused a stir last year when supermarket Tesco removed its Jollof recipe from its website after Twitter users branded it inauthentic.

A spokesman for Mr 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.”

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