Nigerian jollof rice is said to be the precursor of the Creole classic jambalaya, and like jambalaya it can contain a wide variety of vegetables and meat, more like a paella. However, this version is pared down to its roots: just red peppers and tomatoes puréed with a few spices in which to cook the rice. It’s a simple and comforting dish to eat on its own, and is also a fabulous accompaniment to the beef suya .
Soak the rice in plenty of cold water for an hour. Place the tomatoes, red peppers, onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor and whizz until smooth; you may need to do this in 2 batches, depending on the size of your food processor. Tip into a large saucepan and set over a medium-high heat. Bring to the boil and simmer steadily until all the liquid has evaporated, about 50–60 minutes. It’s ready when you can draw a wooden spoon across the base of the pan and the purée holds its shape with no puddles of liquid appearing. Stir regularly, particularly towards the end of cooking when it will be prone to sticking.
Add the oil, tomato purée, bay leaves, thyme and Scotch bonnet pepper and stir fry for 10 minutes until thick and glossy.
Drain the rice, add it to the pan along with the stock, then season with salt and pepper, stirring thoroughly to mix. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then but without scraping the sticky bits off the bottom – they are a highly prized part of the dish. Turn off the heat, put the butter in a lump on top to melt, and re-cover tightly. Leave to rest for 15 minutes before stirring through and scraping off the caramelised sticky bits with a wooden spatula and folding them through the rice.