Few dishes are as closely identified with Jamaican cuisine as rice and peas. Even though there are several variations of rice & beans served throughout the Caribbean, foreigners almost always associate this Caribbean dish with Jamaican cuisine. A lunch and dinner mainstay, Rice & Peas is found on Jamaican restaurant menus worldwide and at most Jamaican gatherings. In recent months I have seen more than a few chefs, some from reputable Jamaican establishments, touting “coconut rice& peas”. Fact is coconut milk is a standard ingredient in any authentic Jamaican Rice & Peas recipe. So regardless of what anyone tells you to make this tasty aromatic side dish coconut milk, thyme and scallions, or onion are a must. Red kidney beans and pigeon peas (gungo) peas are used interchangeably to prepare this dish. Gungo produces a nuttier flavor while they kidney beans impart a rich creamy flavor.
For making Rice & Peas. A can of precooked beans, or peas as Jamaicans call most beans works almost as well as cooking dried beans from scratch. Italists, vegans and other natural food devotees who follow a no processed food diet may choose to avoid canned beans. There are a number of way you can prepare dried beans. Options include a combination of soaking overnight and boiling till tender, pressure cooking or slow cooking. Regardless of the method you choose, the beans should be soft when you begin preparing your rice and peas recipe.
Rice & Peas Recipe, Jamaican Style
- 1 – 15 oz. can red kidney beans
- 1 – 14 oz. can coconut milk
- 1 stalk scallion or ½ sm onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 TB butter, or margarine
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 C water
- 2 C uncooked rice
- Add all ingredients except rice and water to the pot. Heat through. Cover the pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes over med-low heat. Add rice, stir with fork. Cover and let it cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Check rice for tenderness. If done turn off the heat. If rice grains are still hard, add ¼ cup water and cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Fluff with a fork.