First, make the base sauce. There’s two ways of doing this.
Blend red peppers, tomatoes, onions and habanero peppers to make the base sauce. I typically use this sauce directly to make jollof. If you have time and want to intensify the flavor, you can parboil the base to evaporate excess water. This is my African pepper sauce. I usually make this in a big batch and have it on hand almost all the time. If you go this route: use around 200 ml (80% of a cup) per 2 cups of basmati rice.
Start by sautéing some onions and bay leaves, then add the base sauce to fry it.
Use a deep and wide pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add about ⅓ cup of vegetable oil (this seems like a lot but you’re going to basically fry off the sauce). Add finely sliced onions and fry for 1-2 minutes. Then, add bay leaves and thyme and sauté for a minute.
Now, add the tomato base, bouillon and tomato paste and fry the sauce.
At this step, you can also add curry powder if you wish. But the key is to get the base sauce nicely fried with the onions and spices. I cook this covered for 1 to 2 minutes to get the raw taste out of the pepper sauce.
While the sauce is cooking, rinse your rice thoroughly.
Not rinsing rice properly is one of the biggest mistakes that leads to mushy jollof! So, rinse the rice under cold water really well (typically 3 times until the water runs clear).
Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
Now, add the vegetable broth (if you’re using 2 cups of rice, use 1 and ¾ cup of broth) to the pepper sauce. Cover the lid and increase the heat to a medium-high and boil. Typically, this takes about 3 to 4 minutes.
Then, add to the pot, and cook covered for about 12 to 14 minutes.
Once the rice is rinsed, add this to the pot and give it a good stir so it’s evenly distributed. Cover with the tight-fitting lid and cook covered for at least 12 minutes.
Check at the 12 minute mark to see how fluffy your rice is, and give it a good mix again. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until the rice is fully cooked. Move it off the heat, open the lid and let it vent the steam for a few minutes. Serve hot!