This is an easy proof recipe for cooking Jollof rice, the most popular dish in West Africa. I like to serve it as a side with my West African style roast beef (Suya), but it can also be a main course.
. 1 large tomato, ripe, sliced and quartered
. 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
. 1 whole habanero pepper, stems removed
. 1 Fresno chili, or jalapeño, de-stemmed
. 4 garlic cloves, peeled
. 1 tablespoon ground ginger
. 2 cups of water
. 1/3 cup olive oil
. 1 red onion, diced
. 1 teaspoon salt, add more to taste
. 1/4 cup tomato paste
. 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
. 1 teaspoon curry powder
. 1 teaspoon cumin
. 1 teaspoon dried thyme
. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
. 2 1/4 cups basmati rice
. 1 bay leaf
. 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon paste
. 1/4 cup chopped green onion for garnish (optional)
. 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Combine the tomatoes, red bell pepper, habanero pepper, fresno chili, garlic, ginger and water in a blender for the sauce. Mix on high until smooth and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and sauté until the onion begins to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Make a space in the center of the pan, add the tomato paste, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with paprika, curry powder, cumin, thyme, pepper, and turmeric; continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes until everything is combined.
Turn off the heat, and stir the rice, making sure each grain of rice is coated with the oil-tomato mixture. Add bay leaf and chicken bouillon paste.
Turn up the heat, stir in the tomato sauce, and bring to a boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not remove the lid or stir the rice.
Turn off the heat after 20 minutes, and set the timer for 12 minutes. Let the rice sit and do not remove the lid.
After the 12 minutes are up, remove the lid, and fluff the rice with a fork, separating all the grains. Serve garnished with green onions and chopped cilantro.
If the rice looks a little undercooked at this point, stop expanding. Gently pat the rice with the back of a fork, cover tightly again, and set the heat to medium-low. Cook for another 5 minutes, and check again.