Rice and peas is a much-loved side dish for family meals in Jamaica. There are many combinations of pulses and grains such as this in countries where other forms of protein are harder to come by, and much more expensive, so these dishes form an important part of the traditional diet. Probably every cook in Jamaica has a slightly different version. You will need to soak the kidney beans overnight before proceeding with the recipe.
100g red kidney beans (these are the ‘peas’), soaked overnight in cold water
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cups (250 ml) water
1/2 cup (125 ml) coconut milk
2 tablespoons moist flakes coconut (McKenzie’s brand is found in baking section of supermarkets)
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1 generous teaspoon picked thyme leaves
1 small fresh red chilli
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (200 g) long-grain rice
Drain the soaked kidney beans and rinse under cold running water. Put the kidney beans, garlic and water into a heavy-based saucepan and bring slowly to the boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low-medium and cook, covered, for 1.5 hours or until the kidney beans are tender, stirring from time to time to make sure there is still water in the pan and the beans are not sticking.
Tip into a large bowl and add the coconut milk, coconut flakes, spring onion, thyme and whole chilli, then season with salt and pepper. Add the rice and stir to mix. Transfer the rice and bean mixture to a rice cooker and set it to cook. (Alternatively, if you do not have a rice cooker, return the mixture to the pan, then cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.)
Serve in a bowl alongside other dishes.
This is an updated recipe from The Cook’s Table. The quantities of rice, water and coconut milk have been amended.