Whether you call it Jamaican “rice and peas” or “beans and rice,” this popular Jamaican side dish takes experience to bring out the authentic Jamaican flavors and textures. But if you follow this recipe, you will become a guest pleaser at your next dining event.
Why Make Jamaican Rice and Peas?
Vegetarians, Vegans, and others who follow a plant-based lifestyle will appreciate this flavorful dish. Furthermore, Jamaican Rice and Peas is a complete dinner on its own. It contains protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
What To Server With Rice and Peas?
Jamaican Rice and Peas are typically served as a side dish to fish, poultry, or red meat. Add a side of cooked or raw vegetables for a deliciously healthy lunch for family and friends.
This dish is frequently prepared in large quantities. Furthermore, because of its flavors, some people enjoy having a mountain of this side dish on their plate.
What’s the difference between Peas and Beans?
This dish has always been referred to as “rice and peas” by Jamiacans. It is called “beans and rice” in some Caribbean nations and countries. However, in my opinion, I believe that no other country can match the flavors of authentic Jamaican rice and peas.
A full discussion of the differences between peas and beans can be found on Ask Any Difference. According to the article, while peas and beans are members of the same seed family, they have minor physical distinctions. As a result, they are more difficult to distinguish and categorize.
Beans are larger kidney-shaped and are generally red or white in color. Peas, on the other hand, are typically green and oval in shape.
Do you think Jamaicans are incorrect in naming this dish rice and peas rather than rice and beans? I believe Jamaicans label the family of seeds as peas to not complicate dishes. We also make a similar dish using Pigeon Peas or Gungo Peas as it is called in Jamaica.
However, do not allow the slight distinctions between peas and beans to prevent you from incorporating these nutritious seeds into your weekly meal plan.
What To Do With Left Over Rice and Peas/Beans?
Leftover rice and peas taste better as the ingredients continue to marry each other in the refrigerator. My favorite way to reuse leftover rice and peas is to make a bowl of delicious fried rice. You may also find Food Explora’s Fried Rice recipe by clicking HERE.
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Here are two of my posts on Instagram showcasing 2 rice dishes that you will also enjoy.
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If you do not own a Gourmia Air Fryer, here are my links for your shopping convenience. They are easy to use and clean.
Authentic Jamaican Rice And Peas Recipe.
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How To Make An Authentic Jamaican Rice And Peas.
- Cutting Board
- Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Cups
- 16 oz Dried Small Red Beans (1 bag)
- 3 cups Parboil Rice
- 12 cups Tap Water
- 5 cups Freshly Squeezed Coconut Milk
- 2 tbsp Pimento Seeds or All-Spice
- 5 cloves Fresh Garlic, smashed
- 2 tsp. Thyme, dried or 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 thumb size Fresh Ginger, sliced
- 2 sprigs Scallion or Green Onions (quartered)
- 1 dried Coconut (medium to large)
- 2 tsp. Salt
- 1 medium Scotch Bonnet Pepper
Let's Make Coconut Milk
- This step can be done the day before and stored in the refrigerator.
- Traditionally in Jamaica, dried coconut is cracked open by hitting it on a stone or hard surface. We make sure to capture the coconut water for a refreshing drink later. If you do not have access to dried coconut, you may use the links above to purchase canned or powdered coconut milk. But trust me, freshly squeezed coconut milk is always the best tasting.
- For this recipe, a hammer was used to open the coconut. In a kitchen towel, hold coconut and carefully use the hammer to initiate a crack along with the hard shell of the coconut. If you want to be more careful, place coconut on a kitchen towel on the floor for support and carefully hit with the hammer.
- Once a crack is formed, use a knife to pry open the crack to empty the coconut water into a bowl or cup.
- Use the hammer to further break the coconut into smaller manageable pieces. In the same kitchen towel, hold each piece of coconut for support and carefully use the blade of a dinner knife to insert in between the meat of the coconut and shell. Gently lift the knife to release and remove the coconut meat from the shell.
- Once all the white coconut meat pieces are removed, wash them under warm running water. Dice into small to medium pieces. The medium-sized coconut used in this Jamaican Rice and Peas recipe yielded about 3 cups of diced coconut.
- In 3 cups of warm water, blend on high for 2-3 minutes. Strain coconut milk into a bowl using a strainer or cheesecloth. Do not discard the pulp or "trash" as most Jamaicans call it. This can be used to make a delicious coconut cake dessert. See the recipe link below.
Prepare And Cook The Rice and Peas
- Red kidney beans are traditionally used to create rice and peas. I chose to use these smaller red kidney beans instead. They don't taste all that different. Small red kidney beans, in my opinion, are firmer and keep their shape better when cooked than kidney beans, which tend to come apart when cooked.
- Wash peas under warm running water. In a saucepan, soak peas/beans in 12 cups of tap water at room temperature overnight to help soften them.
- On high flame, cook red beans for 30-40 minutes or until soft or easily crushed. The bean water should be reddish-brown in color.
- Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the coconut milk with the cooked red beans. Season the peas with the ginger, scallion, pimento, thyme, salt, and scotch bonnet pepper; simmer for another 8-10 minutes.
- In this recipe, I used parboil rice. I love to use this rice because it allows for shelly and fluffier rice and peas. However, any rice can be used. You will have to adjust the water or liquid content of the recipe depending on the type of rice you use.
- Stir in the 3 cups of parboiled rice. Cover the saucepan with a lid and allow to simmer over low flame for another 15-20 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated leaving behind very fluffy rice and peas. If you can't tolerate the heat, remove the scotch bonnet pepper from the bean broth before it bursts. Even though the pepper popped in mine, it was just mildly spicy.
- Turn off flame and serve warm. Serves about 8-10 people.
Food Explora Cooking Tips:(1) Small amounts of warm water or coconut milk can be poured over rice and peas to further cook the rice as needed. (2) Fresh thyme is most often used in this dish. However, I did not have any so the dried thyme in my pantry was used instead. (3) To help release some of the oils and juices, the scallions can be crushed using your hands or a mallet before adding them to the pot. For this recipe, I slit each stalk of scallion down the length and then cut them to obtain 4 pieces. (4) Canned coconut milk or dried coconut milk powder can also be used as a replacement in this recipe. You may need about two cans or 2 packets of coconut powder to equate the amount of coconut milk needed for this recipe. (5) A pressure cooker can be used to cook beans and shorten their cooking time. (6) If you are planning on cooking a meat dish with this rice and beans, you may want to prepare and cook at the same time that the peas is cooking
Storing And Reheating Rice and Peas.(7) The rice and Peas can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or in a freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw and then reheat in a microwave for 3-5 minutes. Jamaicans back in the day never used recipes with measurements to cook this famous Jamaican rice and peas. After watching my family members cook this dish on a regular basis, in addition to my years of experience cooking rice and peas, I developed the cooking instinct on how many ingredients to use. I believe this recipe is a reflection of the love and culinary swag I put into the creation of my recipes. https://www.food-explora.com/easy-vegan-carrot-coconut-grater-cakes-dessert-snack/
Rice & Peas.
Jamaican Rice and Peas
Jamaican Rice and Beans
Below are some other interesting rice dishes that you may find interesting. Click on each name or picture to learn more about the recipe.
Deddy's Kitchen is one of my favorite Jamaican Youtubers. Here are their take on traditional Jamaican Rice and Peas.
I would love to know what you think. Please leave a comment and star rating. What is your favorite peas and beans?
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