Start by rinsing the rice well in a mesh strainer and set aside to drain.
2 cups long grain brown rice
Preheat a high sided skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and saute until softened and starts to get some color around the edges (a good 10 minutes or so).
Stir in the fennel seeds and cook until fragrant then add the bell pepper. Stir and saute a few more minutes until the pepper just starts to soften.
1 Tbsp fennel seeds, 1 red bell pepper
Add the garlic, toss to coat and cook just until you can smell it then stir in the capers, paprika and onion powder. Add the tomato paste (+ chili paste if using) and combine everything well.
5 cloves garlic, 2-3 Tbsp capers, 6-8 Tbsp tomato paste, 1/2 Tbsp onion powder, 1/2 Tbsp sweet smoked paprika, 1 pinch red pepper flakes
Mix in the rinsed rice and toss to coat well with all the seasonings. Pour in the water, add the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Season with a teaspoon of sea salt, combine well and give it a taste (adjust seasoning). Cover with a tight lid and turn the heat down to medium low.
2 cups long grain brown rice, 3.5 cups + 2 Tbsp water, 1 bay leaf, sea salt + black pepper to taste
Let the rice simmer away for 40 minutes then turn off the heat. (Adjust cooking time here if using a different type of rice or the package suggests different cooking times). Allow to sit covered for an addition 10 to 15 minutes once removed from heat to continue cooking in its own steam.
Fluff with a fork, discard bay leaf and mix in the fresh parsley or basil whichever herb you prefer using. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon for extra zing!
1/3 cup Italian Parsley or Basil