Sarina’s Pigeon Peas and Rice (recipe)
This dish of pigeon peas and rice was the perfect accompaniment to the Crispy Lemon Chicken that I made earlier this year. The rice and peas are cooked together in a rich combination of fresh thyme and coconut milk with wedges of tomatoes and (if desired) a scotch bonnet pepper. The final result is quite similar to the scent and flavour of Jamaican peas and rice, a sentimental fave of mine, and should be a little less daunting in execution especially for new cooks.
At times, I am asked by non-Caribbean readers if they can use garden peas in lieu of pigeon peas. I always advise them against it. Pigeon peas, also known as gungo peas are hardy in texture and can stand up to heat and boiling for long period of times, retaining their texture long after garden peas would have fallen apart.
In Puerto Rico, arroz con gandules is made with rice and pigeon peas and is a traditional dish, especially during Christmas season. Jamaica also uses pigeon peas instead of kidney beans in their rice and peas dish, especially at Christmastime. Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada have their own variant, called pelau, which includes either beef or chicken, and occasionally pumpkin and pieces of cured pig tail…Pigeon Pea – Wikipedia
Unlike in some other parts of the Greater Caribbean, in The Bahamas pigeon peas are used in dried form, light brown in color… to make the heartier, heavier, signature Bahamian staple dish “Peas ‘n Rice”.
Sarina’s Pigeon Peas and Rice
- 2 cups rice
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon margarine or butter
- 2 cups pigeon peas
- 1 large tomato
- 4 cups coconut milk
- 4 stalks dried spanish thyme
- Boil peas with thyme for 20 minutes in the coconut milk2 cups pigeon peas, 4 stalks dried spanish thyme, 4 cups coconut milk
- Sprinkle in rice and crushed tomato2 cups rice, 1 large tomato
- Add butter or margarine1 tablespoon margarine or butter
- Cover saucepan and boil over moderate heat at first, then allow to steam over low heat until all the water is absorbed and the grains are soft
- Add salt, to tastesalt to taste
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This post was originally published February 5, 2009. It has been updated once since then.