Rice and peas is and was always my favorite rice dish growing up. I was a picky eater as a child and my grandmother would often have to make separate meals for me. Cooked food wasn’t something I was particularly a fan of, so I would often spend my lunch money on junk food.
When I did eat cook food, my grandmother would often serve rice as a part of most of our meals, which is common in a Jamaican household. White rice was a bit too bland for my taste and I could only eat it with meats that had a lot of gravy.
Rice and peas is flavorful and is typically make with rice, red kidney beans, coconut milk, thyme and scallions. It was the only rice dish I could eat on its own with no complaints. I was very particular about the type of rice used as not all rice tastes the same. All the same, I would still choose rice and peas, no matter the type of rice used, over plain white rice.
If you’re looking to try something new and flavorful, this Jamaican rice and peas recipe is a great option.
THE HISTORY OF RICE AND PEAS IN JAMAICA
During slavery, rice was a popular dish in West African culture. When slaves owners brought slaves to Jamaica, the slaves cooked food that was familiar to them, typically rice and peas. This was to help them get accustomed to their new surroundings.
They then passed the knowledge of this dish down to their descendants. Rice and peas is a staple of Jamaican cuisine and is more commonly made with rice and red kidney beans. This dish still exists in West Africa today but as Waakye, which is a loose translation of rice and beans.
It is a custom for rice and peas to be served on Sundays. This practice dates to the days of slavery. Sunday was the only day the slaves received off from their strenuous labor. They served the best dishes on this day, with rice and peas at the top of that list.
You may wonder why Jamaicans called this dish rice and peas, even though it does not include any peas. In Jamaica, we usually refer to red kidney beans as peas. Occasionally, we cook rice with actual peas, called gungo peas, which you may know them as pigeon peas. We usually refer to this dish as rice and gungo peas.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR RICE AND PEAS
1. Dried Red Kidney Beans
4. Fresh Thyme
5. Coconut Milk
HOW TO MAKE IT
1. Soak your red kidney beans over night in water.
2. Add your soaked kidney beans to a pot and cover with water.
3. Cook until tender.
4. Add your thyme, scallion, coconut milk, salt and any other seasonings to your pot.
5. Cook for 10 minutes, after which add your rice.
6. Cook until the liquid has been reduced.
7. Once reduced, remove your thyme stems, cover the pot with foil and steam on low heat until the liquid has been completely absorbed.
8. Use a fork to fluff up the rice. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
HOW TO STORE IT
Fridge – This dish will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container.
Freezer – This dish will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months if properly frozen in an airtight container.
Why do you need to fluff the rice? This separates the rice into more distinct grains and so it does not become clumpy. It is ideal to use a fork, that way it does not crush it and create more clumps of rice.
Why do you let rest the rice after cooking? With freshly cooked rice, the rice on top is usually drier than at the bottom. Resting the rice allows the moisture in the pot to redistribute evenly throughout the dish.
How do I fix my soggy rice? Remove the cover and cook on low heat until the liquid dries out.
What should I do if my rice is still hard? Add more liquid and cook until low so the rice absorbs it.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
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JAMAICAN RICE AND PEAS
- ½ cup Dried Red Kidney Beans
- 1 cup Rice
- 3 stalks of Scallion/Green Onion
- 5 sprigs of Thyme
- 1 canned Coconut Milk
- Salt to Taste
- 1 cup Water
- Soak your red kidney beans over night in water.
- Add your soaked peas to a pot and cover with water and bring to a boil.
- Cook the peas until tender.
- Add your thyme, scallion, coconut milk, salt and any other seasonings to your pot.
- Cook for 10 minutes, after which add your rice.
- Cook until the liquid has been reduced.
- Once reduced, remove your thyme stems, cover the pot with foil and steam on low heat until the liquid has been completely absorbed.
- Use a fork to fluff up the rice. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.