This dish is named differently depending on the island you are from.
In some Caribbean islands you would use more peas and less rice.
Cuba loves their black beans and I totally adore them. Trinidad, St Lucia, Barbados, St Vincent, Antigua, Bahamas, Cayman and other islands use a variety of other peas too: pigeon peas, green, black eye beans or any other beans you can find that taste good. However, these islands also cook stew beans and rice as separate dishes for Sunday dinner.
The use of the beans and the rice together is usually in a one pot dish called pelau or cook up.
However we consume it, it is true to say that everyone agrees when I say, Caribbean food is both hearty and thoroughly nutritious, even without meat in the diet.
Those in vegan transition would love this meal. A little heavy for weekday meals but excellent for that amazing weekend feast.
I love to have it after church on a Sabbath, but it also very welcome on a Sunday afternoon when family is cooking and talking and just connecting without the iPad, iPhone or any other electronic gadget!
Cooking rice n peas in big pot batches and then cooling and freezing into smaller containers for during the week is also a great idea. You may not want it everyday, but it is always there to take to work for lunchtime in small portions, or indeed during times when your schedule is super busy.
To Serve 2-4 People
1 Cup Red Kidney Beans (you it will surprise you how they swell)
3 Cups Fragrant Basmati Rice
1 Bonnet Pepper (whole uncut, unblemished)
1 Spring Onion (uncut)
8 Pimento Balls
1 inch Ginger
1 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Nutmeg
4 Cloves Garlic
1 small Red Onion (Grated or Chopped Finely)
3 Sprig of Thyme (Leave Thyme on the Twigs)
1 Tbsp Salt
1 medium tin of Coconut Milk
1/4 Creamed Coconut grated or melted
- Soak the Red Beans overnight in one pint of water in a covered bowl.
- Remove the beans and pour off the water from the night before, add fresh water (it is better for you to avoid toxins in Kidney Beans making you gassy)
- Boil the Beans in an extra 2 litres of water, cook until tender (or use a pressure cooker to cook the Red Beans in at least 25 mins). You will need to keep topping up the water so it does not dry out.
- Once a fork goes through the beans easily, and is not hard at all, do the following:
- In a separate pan, sauté onions, garlic, paprika, thyme, Pimento, cinnamon and nutmeg together in 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil for just 2 mins.
- Add peas to this pan and cook through with a little salt (don’t wash the big pot in which you cooked the peas, you are going to use it again) for about 8 mins, let it simmer and really take in ALL the flavours.
If you just put the seasonings in the pot with the peas, it would be alright but it would not be singing to you. When you sauté seasonings, you release their natural oils and even more of their flavours than just throwing them on top of a previously boiled food.
- Now, add the peas back to the original pot, add the washed fragrant basmati rice and stir well.
- Add the coconut milk at this stage and grated coconut cream.
- If you need more salt, add it but it is best not to add too much salt to your rice n peas.
- Cut the ginger into big pieces that are visible in the pot and remove after cooking. (Using ginger helps to combat the tummy issues when eating beans. Absorbing toxins and ensuring you have a settled stomach – My Aunty Joan taught me this one.)
- Stir to mix all ingredients together and make sure that you add further water if needed until it just covers the rice.
- Mix well, place your crown of delight on top of the rice (No more mixing please!)
- Cover the pot, and await the delectable steam cooking down of the last phase. Some cover with cling film before putting on the cover but I do not believe this is a healthy practice because of what the cling film gives off in chemicals.
- Leave to simmer on a very low heat for at least a further 30 mins.
- When you do remove the cover, remove the entire pepper from the pot, do not pierce otherwise the entire pot will be like fire!
I would spoon out the rice into a dish once it cooked through and grainy (leave for longer if needed)
Serve from the dish and eat straight away.
Alternatively, cool in smaller portions and refrigerate within 60 mins so that you do not have any food poisoning issues later on. Heat up again to 70oC or higher when ready to serve.
Maybe add the jerk tofu or black bean and maduro patties with a beautiful curry chia sauce.
Now I am droooooooling …