Last week I was tired. Tired and lazy and forgetful. Without a doubt the worst part of vacation is the part where you have to return to real life which has, shockingly, continued along in your absence. On the one hand last week I was busy playing catch up; on the other hand I was wistfully longing to be back on vacation.
I had picked up some great looking eggplant at the farmer’s market on Thursday. I threw in a green pepper for color and decided to grab some carrots too and I’d make a nice saute with herbs and spices to have a hearty vegetarian week. I forgot to get the carrots. FAIL
I’d serve my hearty, now carrot-less, vegetable saute with my Nigerian recipe, Jollof rice as in my research I’d learned that the dish is served with either chicken, mixed seafood or just vegetables. I didn’t pick up any fresh ginger, but I could just use the ground. FAIL
Even though I had little success leaving my hot peppers whole in my Haitian dish, I just was not in the mood to get out rubber gloves so I decided to just cut a few slits in the peppers and throw them in. This time it would be better because I’d be throwing them in boiling liquid. FAIL
Ok so last week was not my finest, but I promise you that I plan on coming back strong soon!
Vegetarian Joloff Rice
- Neutral flavored oil for sauteing (peanut is traditional, but because of my nut allergy I used vegetable)
- 1 medium onion; roughly chopped
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes; roughly chopped
- 1 6oz can tomato paste
- Salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1-2 Scotch Bonnet or Habanero peppers (don’t be a wuss like I was, cut them in half first)
- 2 cups white rice
- 32oz low sodium vegetable broth
In large pot, heat oil. Add onions and saute 2-3 minutes until onions just begin to soften. Then add tomatoes and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have softened and started to break down. Add tomato paste.
Stir in salt, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
Using an immersion (stick) blender or transferring to a regular blender, puree until smooth.
Toss in rice and stir to coat with tomato mixture. Add hot peppers and broth, stir.
Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the liquid and is fully cooked.
FINAL VERDICT: C
While I admit that much of went wrong with this recipe was my own fault, most of the recipes I saw out there weren’t that much more exciting than this. I definitely should’ve cut the peppers because the dish ended up having no heat and I actually sprinkled some cayenne in to it after the fact. I also should’ve used one less tomato and a bit more ginger.
Many believe that Jollof rice is the grandfather of jambalaya, a dish that I love, but other than the use of rice and tomatoes I didn’t see (or taste) much of a resemblance. Honestly even if I make all those tweaks I listed above, I can’t imagine this dish ever being more than just ok. It’s just not that exciting.