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.