In a heavy pot large enough to hold everything, saute onions and peppers over medium heat, approximately 5 minutes. Add remaining vegetables, black pepper, and thyme, and cook for about 5 more minutes.
In a separate dish, combine rice with tomato paste and add to pot.
Continue to simmer, adding water sparingly to avoid burning. When vegetables are tender, it's ready to serve.
Chef's Note: You can add chicken/fish/shrimp, for a heartier non-vegetarian alternative?a kind of an African paella . The meal wouldn't be complete without sauteed plaintain?slice very ripe plaintains on diagonal and sauted in vegetable oil over medium flame for about 2 minutes on both sides.
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