Tuesday, January 23, 2007

island flavours

jamaican "rice and peas" is something i especially enjoy on freezing cold days like we have been having lately, to remind me of hotter climes. having tried many different variations of this dish over the past several years, i am most happy with the following version which is an amalgamation of several recipes.

peas are the common lingo of jamaica for beans. therefore you will see kidney beans referred to as peas. the original pea used in this dish is called the gungo pea or pigeon pea. they can be bought dried or canned. i use kidney beans instead.

i have made many attempts to cook dried kidney beans the traditional way with an overnight soaking and then long stovetop cooking. i've also tried pressure cooking them. unless i have only ever gotten 30 year old reserves of dried kidney beans, the results have always been more than disappointing and resulted in not well cooked, pasty and dryish beans. using a reliable brand of canned kidney beans is, in my opinion, a better choice for always successful results.

using a jamaican scotch bonnet pepper is traditional for this dish but something to be done with care, if you aren't experienced with them. they are one of THE hottest peppers known to humankind but used in whole form, they do not impart a horribly fiery flavour. in fact, i do not find it hot enough so i usually either poke holes in the pepper or make a slit through it. just make sure you wash your hands carefully after touching them. you may use other kinds of hot peppers if you cannot use this kind.

two more things before we get cooking — make sure to use fresh thyme for this dish [you can, of course, replace the fresh with the dried herb but it is not the same] and parboiled rice. note that the amount of liquid used in this particular recipe is for parboiled rice. you may have to adjust it if you use a different kind. i happen to like the resulting texture and sturdiness of this kind of grain.

if you haven't ever had this, it is a must try.

jamaican rice and peas


1 1/4 c parboiled (converted) rice
1 can red kidney beans

1/2 c reserved water from kidney beans
1/2 c water
1 1/2 c coconut milk

2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped small
1 1/2 inch chunk of ginger, peeled and smashed

2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground allspice, heaped
10 black peppercorns
1 large tbsp margarine or oil
1 packed tsp brown sugar

1 scotch bonnet pepper, intact or slit for more heat


open can of kidney beans and drain and reserve the liquid.

measure 1/2 c of the bean liquid and 1 c of the beans. place the beans in a small bowl. add 1/2 c water to the 1/2 c of bean liquid. measure out the 1 1/2 c of coconut milk. set these aside for later.

measure out the rice and set aside.

prepare all your your ingredients: mince the onion and garlic. peel and smash the ginger. measure out the spices and aromatic ingredients.

over medium low heat in a pan which has a lid, add the margarine or oil and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion becomes translucent. it should not brown.

add the rice and stir well.

cook the rice for a few minutes until it turns translucent and is glassy.

add the salt, peppercorns, brown sugar and allspice. mix it in and cook for about 30 to 45 seconds only.

add your kidney beans and mix.

raise the heat to medium high and add the liquids. bring it to a boil while stirring and then add the aromatics (thyme, ginger and scotch bonnet).

lower the heat to minimum. cover the pan with the lid and cook the rice for 25 to 30 minutes. check it around 20 minutes. remember if you are using a different kind of rice, you may need to adjust the amount of liquid. at the end of cooking there should be no liquid left or almost no sign of any.

remove the pan from the heat and let the rice sit for 15 minutes for the rice to firm and settle. remove the springs of thyme, hot pepper and ginger [and peppercorns, if you want] and mix the rice. serve hot.



The TriniGourmet said...

i demand a taste test! :)

burekaboy — said...

sarina - well, if that's the way you want it!! LOL.

try this one and let me know what you think. fuh real. :D i'll bet any money you'll chop that red devil up and make fire come outta the mouths of whoever eats it!! hehe.

The TriniGourmet said...

you never chop up scotch bonnet in rice n peas :O :)

what did you eat it with?

burekaboy — said...

sarina - good cause i'd end up with a hole in my stomach. LOL.

my favourite cichlid, of course — tilapia aka st. peter's fish, broiled.

The TriniGourmet said...

broiled :D nah :D fry it up hard :D :D :D :D :D :D daz de way :D NYAM!!

broiled is cool :D HEALTHEE

Shelliza said...

I think Jamaicans make the best rice and peas. Those Scotch bonnet peppers are SUPER hot, so I hope you proceeded with caution:)

burekaboy — said...

sarina - had to compensate for all that fat in the coconut milk!!

shelliza - i once hadn't washed my hands when i chopped a jalapeno for a salsa i was making and then, not thinking, rubbed my eye. i then understood what pepper spray must feel like!! i can't even begin to imagine a scotch bonnet!! i was super careful.

beenzzz said...

mmmmm! This looks like Guyanese "cook up rice." Only that has meat or seafood added to it. Scotch bonnets are definitely deadly!

The TriniGourmet said...

:) i once was prepping for shabbat before work and chopping scotch bonnet and washed my hands and then put in my contacts.. was writing on the floor for well over an hour... :(( never again...
washing your hand does nothing... only gloves :(

Roberto said...

I never ate a hot pepper of this kind but looks like his half brother or almost twin brother habanero pepper and that's real hot but tasty.

burekaboy — said...

beenzzz - cook up, oil down...don't know whether i'm coming or going with all these caribbean things! LOL.

sarina - omg, i'd have called an ambulance! LOL. what a way to start the sabbath...blinded by a chili pepper. hmmm, love is blind, eh?

roberto - if you check the link to the scotch bonnet you'll see it's actually the cousin of the habanero, so you're right. muy caliente is all i can say! i'm sure it would make a great replacement for this a scotch bonnet pepper.

Nafeesah said...

mMMMMM Jamaican Peas and Rice! I have a jamaican friend who makes it sometimes and it's just superb. Bahamians have their own version too, however it doesn't use coconut milk, nor does it have ginger and the scotch pepper in it. I will soooooooooo be making this rice this weekend :D :D

burekaboy — said...

hey nafeesah - i'm going to have to start paying you for being an official recipe tester! LOL.

i've tried making this with the dried kidney beans but they never cook enough to get soft like the ones you have from the can. it's also just easier to open up the can and have it ready.

this is one of the best recipes for this dish i've tried but i'm sure there are other just as good ones out there, if not better :) anyway, tell me what you think of it. just watch out for that scotch bonnet pepper .... it's deadly!! and make sure to use the coconut milk, it makes a HUGE difference (i've tried with both chicken stock and with water and it's good but not the same).

Jamaican Hunger said...

Tried this recipe several times, but yours is the best! Thanks for the tips.

burekaboy — said...

hi jamaican hunger - welcome and thank you for your comment and feedback concerning the recipe.

VERY happy to hear that you liked it -- it is a result of lot of different trials & speaking to people who themselves make it often. after experimenting with different types of rice, liquids and seasonings, this one was the best of the best (so far at least!).

so thanks again for the accolade. it is much appreciated :D

Nafeesah said...

So I finallyyyy got around to making this rice!

I was supposed to make it last week (or was it week before?) But then, as always, lifes unforetold dramas catch up with you and just knocks you over the head and leaves you all whacked out lol.

So I made it this morning, I was going to use the dried beans instead of the canned because I consulted a Jamaican acquaintance of mine and she warned me severely against using canned beans LOL because according to her " Dem stuff is dont be de real ting " :D

However, I just didn't have the time to do boiling and all so I used the canned beans......And I think I mentioned in one of my comments that I love spice, so I was going to chop up the scotch pepper and add it into the rice, however my mom got hold of me before I could add it into the pot, and she gave me a scolding for that which scorched my ears hotter than any scotch pepper could! :)) :^P

But in the end, BurekaBoy, like always, your recipes are great great great :) I made some Caribbean style Stew Beef to go along with it, and I also did some coleslaw as a side, but silly me, I forgot to pack it along haha, but this rice is really good. My brother who is the most pickiest eater on earth loved it and asked me to make it again. Of course I pretended not to hear him LOL.

burekaboy — said...

hi nafeesah :) - LOL, islanders always say not to use canned ones but it just never cooks soft enough for me and canned ones are just quicker and always perfect. also, you need the juice from the canned beans for this version of the recipe. i understand though since using canned ones isn't exactly traditional.

glad you AND your picky eater brother liked it, hehe. wow, he even asked you to make it again. i'll take that as a big compliment or maybe you should since you're the one who made it :) LOL

i laughed when i read that your mom stopped you from adding that chopped up pepper. YOU CRAZY GIRL?? that would have burned a hole through my head!!! if you add it with only the slit in it, then it adds some heat but just a little. all i can say it's a good thing your mom stopped you or you woulda been breathing fire like a dragon. you weren't joking when you said you like it HOT!

too bad you forgot to bring the stew with you. sounds real good. what did u put in it? i've never had caribbean style beef stew before. anyway, sounds like that with the coleslaw made a very nice meal :) now i'm hungry!!

Anonymous said...

In all my years cooking rice and peas never heard of ginger going in it. Also it's much better with scallion or green onions, and some chopped up bacon, salt pork or salt beef. Omit the butter and brown sugar.Neither is traditional.

burekaboy — said...

hi anonymous - thanks for your comment. it's not really an authentic recipe, or meant to be one, but rather a mixture of a few recipes ... the ginger was actually something a jamaican person i know adds to hers! i don't really eat meat but i'm sure it would be great with it.