Jollof rice is a one pot rice dish typically made with tomatoes, onions, and spices. It is popular in West Africa and throughout the African diaspora.
Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion, chopped tomatoes, garlic, seasonings, bell pepper and chili, if using, until the onion begins to get color and the tomato softens, 5-6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and continue cooking for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the rice and cook it together with the sauce for 3-5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, bay leaf and liquid. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and bring to a boil. Let it cook until the rice is done and the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
Serve the jollof rice immediately.
Jollof rice can be made with just about any type of rice, from long grain to parboiled. It is important to note, however, that the type of rice used will affect the end result. For example, parboiled rice will produce a firmer and more aromatic dish than regular long grain rice. The tomatoes and onions used to make Jollof rice are typically stewed until they've broken down and form a thick sauce that coats the rice.
If you don´t have any, substitute the tomato sauce with a 16 oz can of chopped tomato blended with a little onion and 1 more tablespoon of tomato paste. Add some sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomato.
Cover the pot partially if the liquid is consumed too quickly. Add a little more broth or water if requied.
You can add vegetables, chicken, meat or fish. In that case, the rice is cooked in a similar way to a paella or risotto. If chicken is added, it should be fried, stewed, and nearly done before rice is added.
Herbs and spices such as ginger, cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme and cumin are often added for flavor together with the usual garlic and bay leaf. In some regions they like to season with curry powder.
Jollof rice is a popular dish in many West African countries.