Jollof rice is a dish made by cooking rice in a thick and spicy tomato and pepper based sauce. Using that rich sauce as my inspiration, I have created a pasta dish which gives you the exact same taste as Jollof rice. The base of this pasta dish is a tomato and pepper paste which has been enhanced by spices and herbs such as curry powder, thyme, bay leaf and ginger. This is a dish worth trying out.
(1) 200 Grams Pasta (See Note 1)
(2) 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (4 Tablespoons) (See Note 2)
(3) 1 Medium Onion (Ringed or chopped)
(4) 1/2 Teaspoon Thyme (Fresh Thyme can also be used)
(5) 1 Bay Leaf
(6) 3/4 Cup Tomato and Pepper Paste (See Note 3)
(7) 1/2 Teaspoon Curry Powder
(8) 1/2 Teaspoon Grated Ginger or Ginger Powder
(9) 1 Cup Meat Broth (Stock) (Chicken Broth can also be used)
(10) 2 Tablespoons Canned Tomato Paste
(11) 1 Bouillon Cube (Seasoning Cube)
(12) Salt and Pepper to Taste
(13) Frozen/Fresh Peas for Garnish. (Optional)
(1) Your choice of pasta here is very important. Avoid using strand and ribbon pastas like spaghetti, fettuccine and linguine. This is because the sauce in this recipe is too heavy for these pastas. You want to use pastas with grooves, screws and holes like fusilli, macaroni, penne and rigatoni. These types of pastas will provide places for the sauce to lodge in.
(2) Though I have used extra virgin olive oil here, any type of vegetable or seed oil can be used. Ground nut oil for instance will be great here.
(3) Like jollof rice, this recipe calls for the use of a thick tomato and pepper paste. I have a HOW TO post on how to make this paste which can be found here. If you added ginger to your paste while blending, omit the ginger in the recipe.
(1) In a medium sized pot, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onions, thyme and bay leaf to the hot oil and saute the onions until they are soft and translucent.
TIP: If using fresh thyme, put them whole in the oil along with the stalk. As the sauce cooks, the thyme leaves will break away from the stalks. The stalks can be removed later on along with the bay leaf.
(2) Next, add the tomato and pepper paste, curry powder and ginger to the onions and fry these until the paste is very thick and deep red. This takes about 10 minutes. This step is very important. Stir every now and then so the paste does not get burnt.
(3) While the paste is frying, bring a large pot of water to boil. Season the water heavily with salt and add the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente. If they are too soft, they will stick together and/or break. Drain the water leaving the pasta in the pot. I have a post on how to cook pasta perfectly. It can be found here. The fusilli pasta I used here took about 9 minutes to cook.
(4) After the paste has fried, add the meat broth, canned tomato paste and bouillon cube to the paste to create a sauce. Boil the sauce until thick. This takes another 10 minutes. You would have noticed that I have not added salt to the sauce. This is because the broth and seasoning cubes both contain salt. Wait until the sauce has thickened, taste and correct the seasoning if need be.
(5) Now, it is time to mix the pasta with the sauce. Before doing this, take out about 1/2 cup of the sauce and keep aside. You might or might not need this reserved sauce depending on how deep in flavor you want your pasta. Pour the cooked pasta along with the peas (if using) into the sauce pot and mix well to coat the pasta with the sauce. Add the reserved sauce if you feel you need to.
(6) Serve the pasta alone or with your choice of meat, chicken or fish. A side of salad and some fried plantains will also be great.
(1) Curry Powder. Recipe here
(2) Jollof Rice. Recipe here
(3) Peppered Meat. Recipe here