There are certain things that scream Jamaica, things such as Reggae, jerk chicken, white sand beaches, and now… rice and peas. While Jamaican rice and peas may not be internationally renowned, rice and peas is a locally tried-and-true staple.
Rice and peas is a Jamaican dish that is eaten daily and form part of our Sunday dinner tradition wherein rice and peas is served with proteins such as chicken, beef, or pork, among others. When you ask any Jamaican what they ate for Sunday dinner, rice and peas is going to be a part of that mix. It has gotten so embedded in our culture that your Sunday feels off if you don’t eat rice and peas for dinner.
Rice and peas, known in other cultures as rice and beans, is derived from the Ghanaian dish, Waakye. “Waakye is a dish of cooked rice and beans (black-eyed peas or cow beans), that are cooked together, with red dried sorghum leaf sheaths or stalks and limestone.” [source]
The tradition of eating rice and peas on Sundays started in the 1800s during the period of enslavement. Slaves were only permitted one day from work, which was on a Sunday. On this day, slaves could go to church, rest, and spend time with family. Sundays were a day to “socialize with neighbors and reap the fruits of their harvest. It is from this tradition that Sunday was viewed as a day of thanksgiving where the best of everything was displayed, used and celebrated.” [source]
For most Jamaicans, the test of a true cook is his/her ability to make rice and peas. While there are ingredients that are fundamental to the dish, every cook has his/her twist. Some add cloves, pimento, or fresh coconut milk. These additives produce a dish that has a subtle but distinct taste.
Whether you are a seasoned cook who is looking to mix things up or you are new to cooking and want a great rice and peas recipe, here is my tried-and-true Jamaican Rice and Peas recipe:
Gather, measure, and wash the peas.
Cook peas in a pressure cooker for twenty minutes, or until peas are tender.
Once peas are cooked, add the scallion, thyme, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper, butter, coconut powder, and salt. Bring mixture to boil.
While the seasoned peas mixture is boiling, wash rice and set aside.
Add rice to the seasoned mixture. Mix thoroughly to combine and bring to boil.
Lower heat and allow the rice to cook until rice grains are tender.
Once the rice is cooked, remove thyme sprigs and pepper. Fluff and serve with your favorite protein and/or vegetable.
Jamaican Rice and Peas
- 5 ½ half cups rice (I use parboiled)
- 3 cups dried peas (kidney beans or red beans)
- 2 packet coconut milk (I use Grace)
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 2 stalks scallion
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ Stick butter
- Salt (to taste)
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
1. Gather, measure, and wash the peas
2. Cook peas in a pressure cooker for twenty minutes, or until peas are tender. Note: presoak peas in water to reduce the cooking time.
3. Add the scallion, thyme, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper, butter, coconut powder, and salt. Bring mixture to boil.
4. While the seasoned peas mixture is boiling, wash rice and set aside.
5. Add rice to the seasoned mixture. Mix thoroughly to combine and bring to boil.
6. Lower heat and allow the rice to cook until rice grains are tender.
7. Once the rice is cooked, remove thyme sprigs and pepper. Fluff and serve with your favorite protein and/or vegetable.
Hope you Enjoyed 🙂