JAMAICAN RICE AND PEAS

Let me start off by confusing you! This dish isn’t actually made with peas, it’s made with beans, red beans, also called kidney beans! Are you still there? *crickets chirping* PERFECT! I love Jamaican rice and peas, with jerk pork or jerk chicken or escovitched fish and fried plantains with a side of festivals *a sweet fried dough*.

I’ve had a lot of exposure to Jamaican foods. I worked at JAMWEST Caribbean foods for a while and the best part was getting to eat all the delicious food everyday and listening to Jamaican Patois that I could barely understand, and listening to stories from Chef Patrick while he cooked corn meal porridge :). It was truly amazing watching the giant pots of rice and barrels of jerked meats being cooked, and that rum cake from Miss Verona was so divine. Oh and how could I forget about the patties, and fresh juices and hiding in the walk in fridge to ‘sample’ dishes and getting locked inside hehehehe. Good times!

Here’s a much smaller recipe for rice and peas
  • 8 ounces small dried red beans or 8 ounces red kidney beans
  • 1 quart water
  • 16 ounces chicken broth or 16 ounces chicken stock or 16 ounces water
  • 1cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1cup white onion, chopped
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2  teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (left whole) or you can slice it if you want lots of heat!
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 1cups uncooked long grain rice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse and sort beans and place in a stockpot.
  2. Cover with several inches of water and soak overnight,-or- bring to a boil, boil gently for 3 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and allow to sit undisturbed for 1 hour.
  3. Drain and rinse beans.
  4. Bring to a boil with chicken stock, water, and coconut milk.
  5. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours or until beans are tender and creamy.
  6. Add the thyme, allspice, scallion, onion, garlic, scotch bonnet, brown sugar, uncooked rice, salt and pepper.
  7. Check the level of liquid over the rice and make sure there is at least one inch of liquid (if not, you may add water or broth to cover).
  8. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until rice is tender.
  9. Serve hot as a side dish.
  10. For vegetarian,use water not the chicken broth or stock.

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I served the rice and peas, along side jerk pork, which is cooked pretty much the same way as jerk chicken and a tropical salsa! Put some calypso music on in the background and I felt like I was back at home 🙂11064670_10155442019540431_2611953002881183454_o

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DHAL

Dhal, a staple in Trinidadian cooking. We make this dish alongside curries or to be eaten alone like a soup or with roti *flat bread*. It’s healthy, flavorful and filling.

So funny story, when I was a teenager I was a bit rebellious *What? Really?! No way!*… I know, hard to believe right!? Anyway, my mom was forcing me to learn how to cook and I wanted no part of it, so I was throwing a hissy fit about cooking dhal and deliberately doing it wrong so she would just get mad at me and shoo me away. Well….she didn’t and I got a pot spoon thrown at me and she made me count each grain of dhal *split peas* in the package! Ever since then I’ve hated dhal and refused to make it! *Yeah! I’ll show her!!*

Years later, I’m pregnant and craving dhal and I didn’t know how to make it! According to Caribbean superstition, when you get pregnancy cravings and you don’t satisfy it, your child will be born with a birthmark shaped like what you were craving! And I was not about to have a child with a dhal birthmark on his head! 😁

Luckily my sister Giselle was visiting me and she is the best dhal maker I know *Yeah! Take that mom!!*, so I paid close attention and wrote down this recipe. I like my dhal not too thick and not too runny, just in the middle.

RECIPE
1 cup yellow split peas
2 1/2 cups water
7 grains garlic
1/2 onion chopped (medium)
1/2 habanero pepper ( keep whole if you want the flavor and not the heat)
1/4 tsp saffron powder
2 pimento peppers finely chopped (or you can use jalapeños)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp whole geera (cumin)

DIRECTIONS

1. Soak split peas for a couple hours and drain.
2. Boil 2 1/2 cups of water and then add the peas.
3. Add the 5 garlic grains, onion, peppers and saffron powder.
4. Let boil until peas are very soft and tender.
5. In a small pan, heat oil and add 2 grains garlic and geera, let it brown over low heat.When the garlic is brown, carefully pour the oil mixture into your split peas. (This process is called chunkaying)

6. Whisk the mixture or puree until smooth and add salt to taste (about a tsp)

TIP: If your dhal is too thick you can add hot water until you get to your desired texture.

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