Anyone brought up in a real Jamaican household can tell you about the Sunday mornings spent being woken up by the sounds of reggae music and the sweet smell of peas boiling in preparation for Sunday dinner. It’s an experience that we have all shared and one this is actually somewhat spiritual lol. I actually have my “Rice & Peas” Spotify playlist for you guys to listen to as your recreate this recipe so you can immerse yourself in the full experience 😊
Rice & Peas is a very popular Jamaican dish whose roots are firmly planted in our Ghanaian ancestry through their almost identical dish Waakye. It’s a Sunday staple and is traditionally reserved for Sundays dinners or special occasions, although Caribbean takeaways might have you believe that it’s eaten daily and with everything.
As it is the popular choice, this recipe has been created with what we call “red peas” or kidney beans, however gungo/pigeon peas are another alternative and my personal fave. The key to a good rice & peas is in the “peas water”. If you season it correctly, your rice and peas will be more than just rice…with peas and it will actually be a dish of its own, full of flavour and depth.
I always choose to make Rice & Peas with fresh peas as opposed to tinned peas, you get a better flavour and using fresh peas will get you that slight brown colour that a good Rice & Peas has. If you are pressed for time then I guess you will have to use tinned peas 🙄 but ensure that you still season your peas water correctly for best results.
The ratio of rice to peas is also important and I personally feel that too many peas can completely kill the dish. If you want to scale up or down on this recipe, the ratio that I have used is 70 grams of peas per cup of rice.
I don’t like my Rice & Peas spicy so I add the scotch bonnet in once I have added in the rice. If you would like more “kick” in your dish you can add the scotch bonnet in when seasoning the peas water. Remember to remove it before you add in the rice so that it doesn’t get lost and “buss” (burst) in the rice 🥵. Add it back in once you have added the rice and stirred.
Never stir your rice with a spoon as it is cooking as this will cause the grains to stick together and will be detrimental when trying to acheive that “shelly” look of well cooked rice. It is best to use a fork or a BBQ fork (my preference) and only use a spoon when serving.
The rice you use is also important. I love basmati rice; this is all I buy and cook at home, but even if you prefer long grain rice don’t just go for the cheapest option. I love Tilda; although it is significantly more expensive than other brands, it is good rice. Find a rice that comes recommended and cooks well, as cheap trashy rice with lots of broken grains can mash up your dish.
Finally, if for whatever reason at the end of the recipe you think your rice is not fluffy enough or needs more time to cook through, you can add about 50-100ml of water to create more steam and leave it on a low heat until you are happy. Be mindful that too much water can turn your rice from shelly to putty putty almost porridge like, and that nah mek it!