This Delicious Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe is made with fresh coconut milk, allspice, scallions and more! This rice and peas is the best hands down and will make you feel like you are in the Caribbean!
Last year when I attended my cousin’s wedding in Poughkeepsie, I realized that my generation of kids have been spoiled tremendously by our big family and army of talented cooks that came before us.
My cousins and I (all 5200 of us) got together and realized that we will NEED to continue this amazing authentic Jamaican family cooking for our own children, or the culture will die with us.
Being the first generation to be American born, we are so used to being spoiled by our parents and aunts and uncles that were taught to cook by their parents in the islands.
It is so interesting having to marry the two cultures together, but cooking authentic caribbean recipes is a fantastic way to keep the culture alive in our own families going forward.
Why do Jamaicans say rice and peas?
Rice and peas is a dish that can be found in many Caribbean countries. The dish is made with rice and red kidney beans. The beans are usually cooked with bacon, herbs, and spices.
There are several different theories about why the dish is called rice and peas. One theory is that the dish was created by people who were living in slavery. They would mix the rice and beans together because they were not allowed to have meat.
Another theory is that the name of the dish comes from the fact that the beans look like peas. Rice and peas is a popular dish in Jamaica and it is often served at special occasions such as weddings and funerals.
Cooking Authentic Caribbean Cuisine
For a while now I’ve been trying different recipes from all over the internet. I’ve even tried Youtube! I love Pinterest but there are SO MANY “authentic” Jamaican and caribbean rice recipes out there that its hard to decipher which ones are awesome and which ones…are not so good.
It’s a crazy popular dish and for good reason!
What is Jamaican rice and peas made of?
Jamaican rice and peas is made of rice, red beans, coconut milk, onions, garlic, thyme, and Scotch bonnet peppers. Scotch bonnet peppers are a type of chili pepper that is very spicy.
How Do You Cook Like A Jamaican?Well, this is a magical question. Even after growing up in this culture, I didn’t really learn until I got much older! I am learning though that seasoning is key.
A lot of the Jamaican cuisine, especially meats, require complex seasonings that usually marinate for a long period of time.
You will notice that a lot of Jamaican food recipes require the baseline of scotch bonnet pepper, fresh thyme, onion, garlic cloves and scallions (green onions). There could be more or less but those spices are a really great place to start when it comes to main dishes. Don’t forget the salt and pepper!
Make sure to get the right peppers
For this Jamaican rice and peas, also known as Jamaican pigeon peas you will need a whole scotch bonnet pepper, thyme springs and a few cloves of garlic.
Some people may not be able to locate hot peppers so they have been using habanero pepper instead. I don’t use any black pepper in this recipe, but you can add a little if you want your rice to have a little heat. The scotch bonnet whole pepper is added for flavor only.
Some people use brown rice or basmati rice but I am a big fan of using jasmine rice in my red beans and rice recipes. I’ve seen some recipes use chicken stock instead of cups of water. For this recipe you need to make sure that you use enough water, because it won’t cook enough without the right amount of water.
The thyme sprigs are super important for flavor as well. The first time you make this rice and beans recipe it will become one of your favorite dishes! Most people serve with Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken or Jamaican Jerk Chicken.
If you are looking for Jamaican recipes, you have come to the right place. It’s mom’s recipe and you won’t need an instant pot of pressure cooker.
Are rice and peas healthy?
Yes, rice and peas are healthy. They are a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamins B6 and C. They are also low in fat and calories.
Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe
Don’t worry though, I’ve done all the leg work and have finally perfected one of the foundational pieces of any Jamaican dish.
If you ask me, Authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas is an awesome and flavorful side dish that goes with pretty much any main dish such as curry goat, curry chicken, Jamaican stew chicken, oxtail–you name it! It’s the perfect side dish.
It’s even good on it’s own. With so many different ways to cook rice and peas, I am happy that I finally hit the jackpot with the right ingredients and the right type of rice. Caribbean food is not easy but once you nail it, it’s so worth it!
Do Jamaicans say peas and rice?
The answer to this question is a little complicated. In Jamaica, the dish is usually called rice and peas. However, in other parts of the Caribbean, the dish is often called peas and rice.
So, it really depends on where you are from. Some people might say that both versions are correct, while others might say that only one version is correct.
What type of rice should I use?
Some people like to use long grain rice, and some folks like pigeon peas or gungo peas in their rice and peas. (This recipe uses dry peas — dark red kidney beans) Some people even use full allspice berries instead of the allspice seasoning that I love.
To be honest, I’ve tasted so many different versions of rice and beans that I have lost count. This rice dish is definitely my favorite and I’m so excited to share this recipe with you today.
Types of Rice Used In Jamaican Rice and Peas
Before I found this money recipe I tried a bunch and they were epic fails. This recipe is my new go to, but it took me a smooth 5-6 recipes before I finally found a winner with this one.
My favorite type of rice in general is Carolina long-grain white rice. My mom and most of my family are fans of using basmati rice for their rice and peas which has a richer flavor. It can be debated though what people think the “traditional rice” is for Jamaican rice and peas.
I absolutely love to use Jasmine rice though because it has a fantastic flavor and although it is a bit sticky it’s not annoyingly so.
How Long To Soak The Peas
A lot of you have asked whether or not you can used canned peas for this recipe. I DO NOT recommend it unless you like your rice really wet.
The extra water content from the can throws off the recipe. Between the water and the coconut milk addition, the extra water content makes the rice really soupy.
Which ingredients are needed for these Jamaican Rice and Beans?
1/2 cup dark red kidney beans (dry)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 scotch bonnet pepper
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
3 sprigs thyme
2 cups Jasmine rice
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups water
I highly recommend dry peas. I usually soak it in the same pot that I plan on cooking the rice in. If not available you can easily soak the peas in a bowl at room temperature. I usually soak my peas for 5-6 hours.
Generally soak the peas for a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 24 hours. Anything over a day might mess with the integrity of the peas.
Keep in mind the longer you soak the peas the less time it takes to cook, and the more “red” color gets added to your rice and peas. I don’t know about anyone else but I generally judge the authenticity of Jamaican rice and peas by the color of the rice!
Do you cook the rice covered or uncovered?
This is a really good question! The answer is both. While you are cooking your peas, adding spices, and coconut milk, I leave it uncovered. When I add the rice and mix everything in, I cover the pot so it can cook like regular rice.
I generally like to leave my rice covered and cooking but this particular recipe calls for constant stirring to make sure nothing burns on the bottom of the pot.
How To Store Rice and Peas
Once I got the hang of this rice and peas recipe it was super easy to make it for my family. The rice stores in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and it freezes perfectly.
If you do freeze, I recommend to let the rice thaw out naturally and slowly in the refrigerator, but if you don’t have the time, you can thaw in the microwave too, it might be a bit soggier though.
Be Careful Of That Scotch Bonnet
The scotch bonnet pepper is not to be played with at all! For this recipe you need to use the whole scotch bonnet–do not slice it, poke it, nothing. You will be adding the hot pepper to the uncooked rice to give a ton of flavor to the rice. Don’t worry, you remove the entire whole scotch bonnet pepper half way through the process.
The scotch bonnet pepper adds a fantastic flavor to the rice as a whole without any of the heat. Trust me, you don’t want any of the inside–it’s a super powerful pepper!
Enjoy! Be sure to let me know in the comments how it turned out!
(Updated April 2021)
This amazing and authentic Jamaican Rice and Peas recipe uses allspice, coconut milk, thyme and more fresh ingredients for a wonderful experience that will make you feel like you are in Jamaica.
- 1/2 cup red kidney beans (dry)
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 2 cups Jasmine rice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 3 scallions
- 2 cups water
- Soak the peas in a bowl with the water for 24 hours, if you don't have that kind of time soak for at least 2 hours.
- Chop the Scallion, Garlic, & Onion.
- Once the peas are properly soaked (they will likely plump and absorb a lot of the water) place the peas and the water in a saucepan.
- Fill the pot with additional water if needed--the water should be about 2 inches over the peas. Bring to a boil.
- Add the onions, garlic, scallions, & thyme. Add the salt & allspice. Add a full scotch bonnet pepper (do NOT slice, put it in WHOLE).
- Cook for 20 minutes. (Peas may cook quicker depending on how long you soaked them)
- Continually add cool water as needed to make sure that the peas don't burn. Watch closely! You know that the peas are cooked when you can break the peas in half easily with a fork.
- Remove and discard the scotch bonnet pepper. Add the coconut milk and the uncooked rice. Stir throughly.
- Important: There should only be about a half an inch of liquid above the peas and rice. Turn stove down to medium/low and stir (I use a wooden spoon to make sure no rice sticks to the bottom) every 5-7 minutes until cooked.
- In about 30 minutes you will have fluffy and yummy rice and peas!
A lot of folks ask if they can do this recipe with canned beans, I wouldn't recommend this as it increases the water content substantially.
Stay tuned, I’ve got some more authentic Jamaican recipes that I’m going to be sharing with you guys over the next few weeks!
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