Jollof Rice: Vibrant West African One-Pot Special

Jollof Rice: Vibrant West African One-Pot Special

Jollof Rice is a much-loved West African dish, known for its robust flavors and striking red color. It perfectly blends rice with tomatoes, onions, and an array of spices. It can be enjoyed on its own or with a variety of meats, seafood, or vegetables. This recipe introduces a delightful and flavorful dish that can be the star at any dinner table.

### Ingredients:
**For the Jollof Base:**
– 2 cups of long-grain parboiled rice
– 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
– 1 large onion, chopped
– 2 cloves of garlic, minced
– 1 red bell pepper, chopped
– 1 green bell pepper, chopped
– 2 cups of tomato puree
– 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
– 2 teaspoons of dried thyme
– 2 teaspoons of curry powder
– 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
– 2 bay leaves
– 1 Scotch bonnet pepper (optional, for heat)
– Salt and pepper to taste

**For the Broth:**
– 2 cups of chicken broth or water
– 2 teaspoons of bouillon powder or 1 bouillon cube
– 2 tablespoons of butter

**Optional Add-ins:**
– 1 pound of chicken breast or drumsticks (seasoned and cooked)
– 1-2 cups of mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn)
– Fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish

### Instructions:
Step 1: **Prepare the Ingredients.**
– Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Set aside.
– In a blender, purée the tomatoes with bell peppers and Scotch bonnet pepper until smooth.

Step 2: **Cook the Base.**
– Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat.
– Add the onions and garlic, sauté until fragrant and translucent.
– Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3-4 minutes, until it slightly darkens.

Step 3: **Build the Flavor.**
– Pour the tomato and bell pepper purée into the pot.
– Add thyme, curry powder, smoked paprika, and bay leaves.
– Allow the mixture to cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the oil separates from the tomato mixture.

Step 4: **Cook the Rice.**
– Stir in the rinsed rice to ensure it’s well coated with the tomato mixture.
– Add salt and pepper to taste.
– Pour in the chicken broth, bouillon, and butter.
– Mix everything together, ensuring the rice is submerged in the liquid.

Step 5: **Simmer:**
– Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and let it cook for about 25-30 minutes.
– Stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Step 6: **Final Touches:**
– About 5 minutes before the rice is fully cooked, you can add cooked chicken and mixed vegetables if using.
– Remove from heat and let the rice sit covered for an additional 5-10 minutes to absorb all the flavors.

Step 7: **Serve:**
– Fluff the rice with a fork and garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley.
– Serve hot and enjoy your vibrant Jollof Rice!