I first had this chili-like dish at a potluck hosted by my friend Melissa, who is giving the vegan diet a try. She bought a vegan cookbook of recipes from around the world (the name of which I don’t remember at this point and I cant ask Melissa as she in Costa Rica), and made this for all of us to try. I thought it was pretty good, so I copied the recipe and decided to make it myself.
Having never had Jollof Rice before Melissa’s potluck, I decided to look it up. Apparently it’s also known as “benachin” which means “one pot” in the Wolof language (which is spoken in Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania). And yes, I only used one pot to make it. It’s a popular West African dish with these main ingredients: rice, onion, salt, tomatoes, tomato paste, spices and chili pepper.
If there is onion-chopping involved in a recipe, I will probably enjoy it. Or, I will at least enjoy that part of the prep. It’s silly, and I’m not sure why, but I love chopping onions. Bell peppers, on the other hand, not so much. I don’t hate chopping them, but they’re nowhere near as fun as onions.
So I love chopping onions, but I also love throwing them in a pot with some oil (along with peppers and garlic, in this recipe) and hearing it all sizzle. Adding cayenne made it more aromatic. Now, the recipe recommends ½ teaspoon cayenne, but says to increase or decrease the amount to taste. I ended up using a little less than half of a teaspoon. The dish ended up with a nice kick that wasn’t overpowering.
My version was a bit spicier than Melissa’s which is I’m sure because of the cayenne. Instead of cayenne Melissa used chili powder. Chili powder is actually a blend of powdered chilis and other spices: cumin, oregano, garlic and salt, sometimes with nutmeg and cinnamon (see, like I said, cinnamon should go in everything). I like all those other spices, and I think it helped make the dish saltier- my attempt definitely needed some salt and I did not feel that way about Melissa’s.
I had a lot left over, so I was able to package it up and save it for future dinners. Mmm.
I don’t want to post the recipe until I can tell you where it’s coming from (I want to give credit where it is due), so I’ll edit the entry with it when I get the cookbook title from Melissa.