Jollof Tomato Rice with Fresh Thyme
Tomatoey rice is a popular side in many West African menus, but that shouldn’t stop you from making it center stage alongside a salad or a bean dish. For extra flair and richness serve with Tofu Peanut Mafe.
Typically this is made with white rice, but for all you health nuts this recipe features brown rice. The only caveat is that brown rice boiled with additional moist ingredients can sometimes equal uneven or mushy rice on the stovetop. In these instances I recommend baking the rice, for firm, chewy grains that are evenly cooked.
2 tablespoons peanut oil or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely minced yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small hot green chili, minced
1 cup long grain brown rice
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 springs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling water
1 cup frozen or fresh peas, preferably petit pois if you can find them
1. Arrange a baking rack in the center of the oven, preheat to 400 degrees and have ready a 9 x 13 x 2 inch deep ceramic or metal baking dish along with a enough foil to completely and tightly cover the top. Over medium heat in 12 inch deep skillet or wok fry the minced onion in the oil until translucent and soft, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chili, fry for another minute and add the rice. Continue to fry the rice until the grains appear lightly toasted. Remove from heat and spread the fried rice in the baking pan.
2. Add the tomato paste, thyme, salt andand then pour the boiling water over the rice. Stir to dissolve the tomato paste, then stir in the peas. Tightly cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then turn the pan 180 degrees; this will help redistribute the heat for more even baking. Bake another 25 minutes, then remove from oven and peel back the foil. The grains should have absorbed the liquid and the rice should be firm, chewy but not hard. If the rice is still hard and looks very dry, dribble a few tablespoons of water over the rice and bake another 10 minutes or so; if the rice is very wet, loosely cover to allow a little steam to escape and continue to bake another 8-10 minutes. When the rice is done, remove from the oven and let stand covered for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, remove the thyme springs and serve hot.