In Côte d’Ivoire, we eat a lot of rice. When attiéké is not on the table, Jasmine rice, a fragrant, long-grain variety from Asia, is likely to be served.
Many Ivorians like to add an African twist to their rice by incorporating oil and onions. The recipe is simple and delicious. So, if you have always wanted to make a gorgeous and tasty bowl of long-grain rice for your table, now is the perfect time to give it a try.
Normally, I cook for 7-8 people at any given meal. However, like most cooks, I tend to adjust everything depending on how many folks I expect to serve and/or how much rice I would like to have in my fridge after the meal.
So, I thought the best way to share this recipe with you would be to give you a scalable recipe, which you too can adjust to the number of servings you need to prepare on a given day. (A good rule of thumb is one cup of dry rice for every 2 people you plan to serve.)
2 cups water for the first cup of jasmine rice.
1 1/2 cups water for every cup of rice thereafter.
1 medium onion for each 2 cups of rice, peeled and diced
2-3 Tbsps vegetable oil
Salt, to taste
Example: 2 cups rice + 3 1/2 cups water + 1 medium onion, or 3 cups rice + 5 cups water + 1 1/2 medium onions
1. Place rice in a large bowl. Add water to cover, and agitate the rice gently with your fingertips to bring any impurities and excess starch to the surface. Drain the water carefully, and repeat until your rinse water runs clear. (I normally rinse my rice this way about six times.)
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan with a tight-fitting lid, set over medium heat.
3. Once oil is warm, add your diced onions to the pot, stirring continuously until the onions are translucent. (Do not brown the onions.)
4. Add drained rice to the pan with the onions, and stir gently to coat rice with oil. Allow the rice to toast lightly, while stirring gently from time to time (about 3 minutes).
5. As soon as the rice begins to give off a toasted, nutty fragrance, add water and salt to the pan. Increase heat to medium-high, and leave the pan lid slightly ajar.
6. As soon as the rice foams (boiling point), reduce the heat to low and cover the pan completely.
7. Allow to cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the aroma of cooked rice fills your kitchen.
8. Turn off the heat. Resist the urge to “check” and leave the pan closed for at least 5 full minutes. (I often leave mine for 10-15 minutes.)
9. When you open the pan, fluff the rice gently with a fork and serve with your favorite African sauce.
Rice is easy to prepare. However, it is difficult to boil its preparation down to an exact science because pot dimensions are not standard. A good tip my mother once gave me is to ensure that the distance between the top of the rice in the pot and the top of the water is approximately the same as the distance between your pointer fingertip and your first knuckle. When in doubt, this is my unscientific (but effective) “trick”.
When you first open your pot, you may be concerned you have left too much water in your rice because you will notice that the rice at the bottom of the pot is moister than the rice at the top. Don’t fret. After you have fluffed the rice with your fork, you will observe a lot of steam coming out of the rice. By the time the rice reaches the table, enough of the excess moisture will have evaporated on its own.