JOLLOF RICE (West African, 7-1/2 cups)
This recipe is from Tunde Wey, a chef born in Nigeria who works in New Orleans. Some speculate that jollof rice may be a predecessor to jambalaya.
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 5 ounces each)
½ medium Scotch bonnet pepper (or use a habanero pepper) stem removed
½ medium onion, roughly chopped
3 small red bell peppers, roughly chopped (about 5 ounces each)
½ cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1-1/2 teaspoons hot ground chile pepper, such as African dried chile or cayenne
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 heaping teaspoon onion powder
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2-1/2 cups medium grain rice
1. Measure rice into a fine-mesh strainer and place into a bowl of cold water to soak for 30 minutes. Remove sieve from water and drain rice for 20 minutes. (Soaking and drying the rice thoroughly are important to remove the starch from the kernels before cooking. Otherwise, your rice may be gummy.)
2.In a blender, combine the tomatoes, Scotch bonnet pepper and onions; puree. Pour out half the puree into a bowl; set aside. Add the bell peppers to the puree remaining in the blender and pulse until smooth. Add to the mixture that was set aside and stir to combine.
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add blended vegetables along with the salt, curry powder, ground chile pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, bay leaves, ginger and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil.
4. Stir in the rice until well mixed, then reduce the heat to low.
5. Cover the pot and let cook until rice is al dente, about 45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes; if the rice is sauce-logged, remove the lid to cook off the excess sauce. If the rice seems dry, stir in 1 to 2 cups water. Allow the rice at the bottom on the pot to char a bit to infuse it with a smoky flavor.
printed in the New York Times