Jamaican Rice and Peas

Rice and peas is the quintessential Jamaican food. It’s a side dish that accompanies most meals in Jamaican cuisine. Some of the Jamaicans that I know say that rice and peas is considered a must have on Sundays. That’s definitely a tradition that I can get on board with. My Sundays would be even better if I made it a point to always have rice and peas. For those who might be confused, wondering why rice and peas is called rice and peas when it’s made with beans, not peas. It’s because beans are often called peas in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean.

How to Make Jamaican Rice and Peas

To make rice and peas, you will need 3/4 cups of dried red kidney beans, 2 cups of long grain brown rice, 1 scotch bonnet pepper, 1 cup of coconut milk, 4 stalks of thyme, 2 stalks of scallions, 1 medium onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon of allspice, 1 teaspoon of salt (or to taste), 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 2/3 a cup of chicken broth, and water. Put the beans in a bowl with cold water. Let the beans soak in the water overnight or for at least 8 hours. The beans will become softer and plumper. I recommend not using beans that are older than 12 months as old beans won’t soften.

Soak the rice in a bowl with warm water while you work on the following steps: In a medium non-stick pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil on medium-high heat (about 5 minutes). After straining the red kidney beans, add them to the pot. Add chopped scallions, minced garlic, minced ginger, chopped onions, thyme (leave whole), allspice, black pepper, and scotch bonnet pepper to the pot. Don’t cut open the scotch bonnet pepper. You want it to go in whole otherwise it will make the dish too spicy.

Bring the water to a boil on medium-high heat (about 3 minutes). Lower the heat to low and let the bean mixture simmer for 60 minutes or until the beans are al dente (almost done). Remove the scotch bonnet pepper and thyme stems from the pot and toss them out. Add the salt, coconut milk and chicken stock to the beans. Pour the rice into a strainer and wash and rinse the rice over the sink. Add the rice to the beans and mix well using a spoon. The liquid should be about 1½ inches above the rice. If it’s more than that, you have too much liquid and should remove some of it to prevent the rice from becoming soggy. If it’s less than that, it’s not enough liquid and you should add more water to get the liquid to this height.

Here, I borrow a technique for making jollof rice by covering the pot with tin foil (aluminum foil) before covering it with a lid. Doing this helps to trap in steam to cook the food evenly. Bring the rice to a boil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Set the stove to low heat and let the rice and peas cook for 40 minutes or until tender. When the rice and peas is half-way done, use a spoon to gently turn it to prevent it from burning. Around 6 minutes before the rice and peas is done cooking, remove the tin foil from the pot and let the rice and peas cook with only the lid covering the pot. And you’re done! Rice and peas can be used as a side dish for just about any savory Caribbean dish. Try it with this Jamaican curry chicken. Enjoy! Let me know how it goes!

 

jamaican rice and peas
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4.34 from 18 votes

Jamaican Rice and peas

Rice and peas is the quintessential Jamaican food. It’s the perfect side-dish for just about any Caribbean meal. But don’t limit yourself to serving rice and peas with Caribbean meals, try it with other dishes; it tastes really good with shito (Ghanaian hot pepper sauce).
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 48 mins
Total Time1 hr 58 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Caribbean
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 393kcal
Author: Mavis K.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dried red kidney beans
  • 2 cups long grain brown rice
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (leave whole)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 4 stalks thyme (leave whole)
  • 2 stalks scallions (chopped)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger (minced)
  • 1 tsp allspice (ground)
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp black pepper (ground)
  • cup chicken broth
  • 4 cups water

Instructions

  • Soak the red kidney beans in cold water overnight or for at least 8 hours.
  • When you're ready to cook the dish, soak the rice in a bowl with warm water while you work on the next steps.
  • In a medium non-stick pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat (about 5 minutes).
  • Strain the beans and add them to the pot.
  • Add the scallions, garlic, ginger, onions, thyme, allspice, black pepper, and scotch bonnet pepper to the beans.
  • Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat (about 3 minutes).
  • Set the heat to low and let the bean mixture simmer for 60 minutes or until the beans are al dente.
  • Remove the scotch bonnet pepper and thyme stems from the pot. Add the salt, coconut milk, and chicken stock to the beans.
  • Using a strainer, wash and rinse the rice over the sink and then add the rice to the beans, mix well using a spoon. The liquid should be about 1½ inches above the rice and beans.
  • Cover the pot with tin foil (aluminum foil) to trap in steam to cook the rice and peas evenly.
  • Bring the rice to a boil over medium heat (about 5 minutes), then set the stove to low heat and let the rice and peas cook for 40 minutes or until tender. Using a spoon, gently turn the rice and peas when it’s about half-way done to prevent the bottom of the dish from burning.
  • About 6 minutes before the rice and peas is done cooking, remove the tin foil from the pot and let the rice and peas cook with only the lid covering the pot

Notes

  • Avoid using beans that are older than 12 months as old beans won't soften.
  • You can use canned beans for rice and peas but you'll need to use less water. I will post my recipe for rice and peas using canned beans at some point.
  • A few people have asked me what pepper they can use to substitute scotch bonnet pepper as it's not sold in grocery stores in their area. So, I thought I'd include a note here. Habanero pepper is the closest substitute for scotch bonnet pepper. If you can't get habanero pepper, you can use chili peppers like serrano pepper and Thai red chili. Also, since you don't cut open the pepper in rice and peas, you can leave it out without changing the taste of the dish by much.

Nutrition

Calories: 393kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 117mg | Potassium: 592mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 87IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 4mg

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Linda
    October 22, 2021 at 11:33 pm

    Hi I just found this wonderful recipe is the scotch bonnet really hot? And if so can it be taken out of the recipe

    • Reply
      Meals by Mavis
      October 23, 2021 at 4:48 am

      Hi Linda. Scotch bonnet is a really hot pepper (typically hotter than a jalapeno). However, in this recipe, the scotch bonnet is used without opening it and exposing the seeds and membrane (where most of the spiciness comes from) of the pepper. So, the dish isn’t actually spicy. It’s on the mild/medium level of spiciness. However, if you are very sensitive to pepper and are still concerned, you can leave out the pepper. It has such a low profile in the dish that leaving it out doesn’t really change the overall flavour of the dish. I hope this helps.

  • Reply
    Amanda Kestenbaum
    July 16, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    My dad lived in Jamaica when he was young and talks of rice and beans with fondness. I think I shall make this for him.
    I also think that the way you have written this recipe down is great, I do not have to wade thru two dozen photos before I get to what I need. I’m definitely going to have a look at some of your other recipes.

    • Reply
      Meals by Mavis
      July 16, 2021 at 1:24 pm

      I’m glad that you like how I’ve written the recipe, Amanda. I always try to make things readable for people. Let me know how the recipe turns out for you and your father. I’m happy to hear that you’ll be checking out the other recipes on the blog.

  • Reply
    Carol mack
    January 30, 2021 at 3:03 am

    Hi there is no chicken broth in Jamaican rice and pease

    • Reply
      Meals by Mavis
      January 30, 2021 at 11:11 am

      Hi Carol,

      I’m aware that Jamaican rice and peas typically doesn’t include chicken broth. This isn’t meant to be authentic.

    • Reply
      Carlyle
      April 18, 2021 at 8:53 am

      But it sure add more flavor.

      • Reply
        Meals by Mavis
        April 18, 2021 at 10:16 am

        Indeed, it does. That’s why I include it.

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