May 20, 2015

Easy Jamaican-style Rice & “Peas”

Jamaicans call this dish “rice and peas” but they’re not peas like we know them. They’re red beans or kidney beans. Traditionally, rice and peas was always cooked on a Sunday but today it is eaten on any day of the week and has become one of Jamaica’s signature dishes.

If you’re looking for an easy, nutritious meal, try this flavorful take on beans and rice! The sultry, smoky heat lingers just long enough to make this a very enjoyable Caribbean treat! Coconut milk is traditionally used in this dish, but I substituted dried, shredded coconut which really gave it a nice texture and wonderful flavor, too!


  • 1 cup brown rice (I used basmati for extra flavor) + 2 cups fresh water
  • 1½ cups cooked, salt-free kidney beans (equivalent to 1 can)
  • ½ cup water (if using canned beans, use the bean juice instead)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened, shredded coconut (or ¼ cup coconut milk)
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup finely chopped, sweet onion
  • ½ tsp dried thyme (or 1 tsp fresh, chopped)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper (Scotch Bonnet peppers are VERY hot! If you can’t find them in your market or if you prefer a milder heat, you can use any pepper variety. I used a Thai chili pepper since I did not have a scotch bonnet on hand.)


  1. Cook the rice, as you normally would. Set aside.
  2. Place the remaining ingredients in a sauté pan and cook on low for about 20 minutes. Add more water if things start to get too dry and sticky.
  3. Toss the bean mixture with the cooked rice.
  4. Top with some freshly sliced green onion.
extra yummy with some avocado!
Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main. Enjoy!

4 responses to “Easy Jamaican-style Rice & “Peas””

  1. moonwatcher says:

    Simple, and yummy. My kind of meal. Thanks Helyn! 🙂

  2. Helyn says:

    You're welcome, Maria! Enjoy! 🙂

  3. Gira says:

    I believe this dish is traditionally made with pigeon peas, which are NOT very common in the U.S. I used to have a Puerto Rican mother-in-law who would make her traditional "arroz con gondules" (rice & pigeon peas) dish which I used to enjoy. I also have an Indian mother who grows pigeon peas in the garden. They are common in Indian cooking, too. You can usually find a split dry version in Indian grocery stores. My mom always bought the "oily" version because she says they are easier to cook and become tender. I add these (labeled "oily toor dal" in the grocery store) to my brown rice and cook them together in the same pot and the result is delicious! They are also high in protein and have great texture that pairs really well with grains like rice. I wish these "peas" were more common in the U.S.
    I have made this Jamaican dish before with black beans and a whole can of coconut milk and it was really yummy, but it was also really fatty. I can't wait to try this lighter version instead. Thanks Helyn!

  4. Helyn says:

    Thanks for all of the interesting info, Gira! :))

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