Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe
Sunday wouldn’t be Sunday without ‘Rice and Peas’ on the menu, however this delicious coconut based rice dish is a Jamaican tradition that can be cooked and savoured on any day of the week…
If ‘Ackee and Saltfish’ is the National dish of Jamaica, then ‘Rice and Peas’ should be the known as the ‘Coat of Arms’. Rich, coco-nutty, wholesome and nourishing, Jamaican’s ‘dere a yard, or dere a foreign’ love to eat Rice and Peas, whether served at home, or at the cook shop.
The preparation for this dish starts on Saturday night when the peas (kidney beans / red beans) are washed and left to soak overnight in water infused with garlic. In the morning when the peas are set on to boil, the dry coconut is grated and the milk is drawn, then the magic really begins when the scent of seasoning and coconut milk start to fill the air as it is added to the red peas….Mmmmm! Enjoy!
How to Cook Jamaican Rice and Peas
First things first, thoroughly wash your hands and scrub underneath your nails if you can. Gather all your ingredients and cooking implements together and put them on the counter top so you have everything within reach and you will also save time and make it easier for yourself.
You will need:
- a large pot to soak red peas and cook rice / or a pressure cooker
- a chopping board and sharp knife
- A sieve / strainer to wash the rice
- 4 cups of rice (I prefer basmati rice)
- 1 cup dried red peas (kidney beans / red beans) – You can use tinned instead, just don’t soak and over boil them!
- 2-3 stalks of escallion (spring onion)
- 1 large tomato
- 2 peg Garlic
- 1 sprig Thyme
- 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 tablespoon butter / margarine
- Milk from 1 dry coconut (see Coconut Milk recipe) Or, 1 pack of Coconut Milk Powder, or, 1 tin of coconut milk
- Water; Combined liquids should make up about 6 cups
- 1 Knorr style vegetable stock cube, optional but recommended for a fuller flavour
If you don’t have a dry coconut to hand, then I would recommend using Coconut Powder, both Grace and Maggi have a great substitute.
You can use tinned red peas (kidney beans) if necessary, but they don’t turn the cooking water very red and aren’t quite as nice as using the dried variety.
Serves 6 people – Takes about 10 minutes to prepare and up to 2 hours to cook; if you want to feed more people, just increase the quantities to enjoy this delicious Jamaican food.
If preferred you can cook the peas in a pressure cooker from dried, in about 45 – 60 minutes, which saves time and energy, plus it also gives a great colour to the finished rice.
Let’s Start Cooking!…
Method for Cooking Jamaican Rice and Peas
- Thoroughly wash the red peas (kidney beans) and discard the water
- Place the red peas into the pot you intend to cook the rice and peas in, add about 4 cups of water and the diced garlic, cover the pot and preferably leave overnight, or for at least 2 hours – until the peas have swelled
- Once the peas have swelled, the water should have turned a reddish hue, which will colour the rice when it is cooked; I feel by soaking the peas overnight, or using the pressure cooker, you get a better colour to the finished dish and you don’t have to boil them as long saving energy
- DO NOT discard the reddish coloured water the peas have soaked in as this helps to colour the finished dish!!
- Once the red peas have swelled, set them on to boil in the same reddish coloured water and cover the pot. Regularly check the pot and do not allow to boil dry – add more water if necessary, but not too much as coconut milk will be added later
- Wash the seasoning, then crush the escallion stalks, slice the tomato thinly and put to one side, with the sprig of thyme and the whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper
- Make the coconut milk (recipe can be found on blog) and set aside
- Boil the red peas until almost soft – around 30 – 40 minutes
- Add the coconut milk to the pot and stir in with a fork to finish cooking the peas – test the peas are cooked by removing one from the pot and see if you can crush with a fork; usually after about 45 minutes to an hour (if left to soak overnight) turn down the pot a little to a simmer
- Add the sprig of thyme, escallion, tomato, salt, a good-sized knob of butter, whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper (if possible leave on the stalk and do not cut or pierce the pepper) and stock cube to the pot and lightly boil until seasoning is soft
- Wash the rice thoroughly and add to the pot, the liquid level should be about 1 inch above the height of the rice and peas
- Carefully and lightly stir with a fork to mix the peas through the rice, be careful not to burst the pepper. Turn down the heat and cover the pot and leave to steam
- Steam until the rice is tender and all the liquid is gone – you can tell if the water has been absorbed as the top of the rice will be ‘pitted’; around 30 minutes
- If you do feel the need to stir the pot again, only use a fork – do not use a spoon and do not over mix, or it will turn into rice pudding / risotto…
- If the rice is still hard and the pot is dry, turn down the heat a bit and carefully wrap some cling-film (plastic wrap) over the top of the pot, leaving the pot to sweat, the condensation created in the pot will usually finish cooking the rice to perfection (a plastic bag or even tinfoil can be used if cling-film is not available)
- Serve and enjoy!
This Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe can be enjoyed with:
If you enjoyed this Jamaican recipe and want to try more delicious Jamaican food, click the link for more easy, filling and nutritious Jamaican food recipes.
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