1tbsptomato pastefor the color - you can make do without
2bouillon cubesmake sure to buy a vegan version!
½tspthymesubstitute thyme powder as needed
1tspsaltadd more to taste as needed
2cupsbasmati ricewash and drain to get rid of excess starch
1 ¾cupsvegetable stock
Blend tomatoes, red peppers, onion and habanero peppers in a blender until you get a smooth puree. This is the base of the Jollof rice.
In a deep pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and bay leaves to heated oil and fry for 2-3 minutes
Once onions are translucent, add pepper sauce, thyme, bouillon and tomato paste for color. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the raw smell of the pepper sauce disappears.
Add vegetable stock, cover, and bring to a boil (covered). Add washed and drained rice, mix with the sauce, and lower heat to a low-medium.
Now, cover the pot (either with foil first or just a tight fitting lid) and simmer for 10 minutes. At the 10 min mark, stir the rice so it doesn't stick. Check to see how the rice is cooked. Cook for another 2 to 4 minutes to finish cooking the rice.
If you want the bottom to be crispy, turn up the heat to medium high for 1 minute
Take the pot off the heat, and stir up the crispy rice at the bottom to the top. Add a few more slices of onion and serve hot!
Typically, Nigerians use long grain rice (and not aromatic rice like basmati) to make jollof. However, I've found that basmati rice works as a great substitute since it's meant for "infusion" cooking (i.e. when you cook the rice in a flavorful sauce or broth like in this case). Plus, I couldn't resist adding a bit of my own heritage into the mix here!
It's easy to adjust this recipe to your taste - if you want it more spicy, add another habanero pepper; if you want it less spicy, avoid it altogether. Every person's spice palette is different, but if your spice tolerance is lower, I'd suggest playing safe the first time and then increasing the peppers, versus the other way around.