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Jollof: A taste of Africa reminiscent of the South

By: MICHELE KAYAL The Associated Press -The Associated Press
May 1, 2013
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photo - In this image taken on March 18, 2013, jollof rice is shown in a serving bowl in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on March 18, 2013, jollof rice is shown in a serving bowl in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) 

Jollof, a West African staple, is made differently in different countries, and even by different people in the same country. A story in the The Guardian called jollof 'the African dish that everyone loves but no one can agree on. '

A one-pot meal, the basic ingredients include rice that turns bright umber in the tomato sauce, spices that range from nutmeg to chili peppers, and sometimes vegetables.

JOLLOF RICE

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Yield: 8 servings

For the rice: 4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, divided 1 large yellow onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger 3 tablespoons tomato paste 15-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon curry powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste) 2 cups basmati rice 5 to 6 cups (1 1/2 quarts) unsalted chicken stock

For the vegetables (select 2-3): 1 red bell pepper, cored, diced 1 green bell pepper, cored, diced 2 stalks celery, diced 2 carrots, diced 3/4 cup fresh/frozen peas 3/4 cup fresh/frozen green beans

For the protein (select 1 or 2): 1 pound large peeled shrimp 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs 1 pound sirloin steak, cubed 1 pound tofu or seitan, cubed

For the garish (select 1): Chopped fresh parsley Chopped fresh cilantro Sliced scallions Hot sauce

Procedure:

In a large, heavy bottomed pan such as a Dutch oven over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, then cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook until the mixture becomes brick red, about another 6 to 7 minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes, coriander, cumin, curry, salt, black pepper, thyme, red pepper flakes and rice. Stir to mix. Add 5 cups of chicken stock and bring to simmer, then cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid. Check rice; if it is firm, add another cup of stock and cook until absorbed.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of remaining oil. Saute your choice of vegetables for 5 to 6 minutes, or until beginning to brown and starting to be tender. They do not have to be completely cooked. Add them to rice and stir in.

Repeat the sauteing process with the remaining tablespoon of oil and your choice of protein, searing it over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Stir that into the rice mixture, as well.

Cook until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and the vegetables and protein are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and garnish with herbs and/or hot sauce.

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