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Jollof Rice

Jollof rice is a popular dish in West and Sub-Saharan Africa. Ayo Bello and his family often enjoy Jollof rice at the breaking of the fast and during Eid celebrations. Ayo never cooks with recipes, but the below recipe he found on The New York Times reminded him of his own cooking style.


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
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1½ teaspoons hot ground chile pepper, such as African dried chile or cayenne
1½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon plus 1 heaping teaspoon onion powder
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
2½ cups medium-grain rice

Recipe directions: 

In a blender, combine tomatoes, Scotch bonnet pepper, and onions; purée. Pour out half the purée into a bowl; set aside. Add the bell peppers to the purée remaining in the blender and pulse until smooth. Add to the mixture that was set aside and stir to combine.

Heat 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 mixture to a boil.

Stir in the rice until well mixed, then reduce the heat to low. Cover pot and let cook until rice is al dente, about 45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes; if rice is sauce-logged, remove the lid to cook off the excess sauce. If rice seems dry, stir in 1 to 2 cups water. Allow the rice at the bottom of the pot to char a bit to infuse it with a smoky flavor.

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