Monday, April 5, 2010

Simplicity Itself - Rice & Peas

I have a lot of thyme on my hands. But not a lot of time. Hmmm. English. It's a phunny language.

Luckily I also happen to have a Jamaican friend who always mentioned a dish called Rice & Peas during her stay in Canada, where we used to work together (feels like a lifetime ago). I believe she sighed with nostalgic pleasure every time she said it. Oh, don't feel too bad for her - she's now back in her native Jamaica, and I'm positive she is scarfing down all the rice & peas she can get her hands on. I, however, was a skeptic the entire time, because I'd never had it, and frankly just didn't get what the big deal was. Recently I came across a recipe for it that appealed to me because of its use of thyme (per my previous post, you know I'm swamped with it), so decided to go ahead and test it out.

Tara. If you're reading this, I'm eating my words. As well as a big bowl of this stuff for dinner tonight. Again.
Before I go on to the actual recipe, let me quickly clarify to my fellow Indian/Pakistani friends - this isn't rice & peas, aka mattar pulao, like we make it. These aren't green peas. They're pigeon peas, which is a whole different animal. You'd know it as toor daal, the non-oily version, with the skin still on. I was lucky enough to find a can of these in the international section of my grocery store. I also happened to find the prettiest habanero pepper I'd ever seen, so of course, ended up buying it and photographing it a million different ways.

Jamaican Rice & Peas (adapted from the fab blogger over at My Recession Kitchen)
Serves 4-6

Click here for printable recipe

2 cups cooked pigeon peas (toor daal, whole, non-oily) OR 1 can pigeon peas - can substitute with another red bean, like kidney.
2 cups basmati rice
1 can coconut milk
2+ cups water
1-2 green onions
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 habanero / scotch bonnet chili pepper
1.5 tsp salt

1. Rinse the rice in water and drain. Put the rice and beans in a large pot.

2. Slit the green onion down the middle and add it to the pot. Lay the thyme sprigs on top. Add in the chili pepper (if using a habanero like I did, pierce it once or twice to impart more heat into the dish)

This was one of those "aha" moments, when a pretty picture just emerged without any staging required.

This is definitely the prettiest habanero on the planet. My goodness, what a beauty.

3. Add enough water to the coconut milk for the mixture to equal 2 cups. Pour this over the rice and beans, then add an additional 2 cups of water along with the salt. Stir once, but make sure the onion, thyme and pepper remain on top.

4. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Cook for 30 mins or so, until the liquid is completely absorbed and rice is cooked.

5. Let stand for a few minutes before removing the pepper, onion and thyme. Serve.
Verdict: I had this on it's own and thought it was pretty damn good. Then I had it with a curry and thought it was perfect! It's a simple recipe, which produces unexpected results - complex with the subtle flavors of coconut and thyme and onions. Not to forget that faint hit from the pepper. I'm not even going to kid myself into thinking that this is even close to anything you'd get in Jamaica, but if it's even on the same track, I'm happy. I'm also going to book my next vacation there, then proceed to pig out like a maniac.


Foodiewife said...

You are so right-- it's a gorgeous pepper! I've never heard of these peas, but I can tell that the layer of flavors are amazing! I got sucked right into imagining the flavors when I saw the coconut milk. I want!

nandini said...

I am happy that this is different from our kind of pulao's .. I have to look hard in the market to find toor dal with skin but the flavour of thyme , coconut milk with dal and rice is making me want to do this right away!!. Very unusual and interesting recipe muneeba!!

Sophie Sportende Foodie said...

MMMMMMMMMMM,...a lovely bean & rice dish, Muneeba!

Yum Yum Yum,..I hope you & your lovely family had a fab Easter!

Doppelganger said...

Awww, that pepper is so cute! and yet, so deadly! ;) I must say that I like your little tip of poking it a few times before dropping it into the pot, that way the heat is more controlled. I would have just chopped the whole thing and then lit my mouth on fire. And the recipe is such a surprise! I'd heard of Jamaican rice and peas but always thought it must be similar to our very own muttur pulao. Nice to be educated by the Edible Symphony composer!

Cool Lassi(e) said...

Simple and fabulous!Easy everyday meal that can be whipped in a jiffy!

Joanne said...

I love how your blogger tendencies shine through with that pepper. I photograph food because it's pretty way more than I ever photograph people. it drives my mother insane!

this dish looks delicious. I never would have thought to mix coconut and thyme but...if you say so...

Anonymous said...

Delicious! I made a similar rice with peas actually the other day with addition of golden raisins. I wish I added a habanero or scotch bonnet too - that sounds awesome!

Tracy said...

Looks wonderful! In Jamaica we use red kidney beans... (I know the dish is called rice and peas, but go figure!!).

jp said...

Hi, I sooooo miss your recipes, how is your new baby doing? :)

We made the same thing the other day but we made the rice coconut rice! yum!

Duchess of Tea said...

I need meatless recipes. My vegetarian daughter is temporarily staying with me and I am running out of ideas for her supper. She loves rice, beans and coconut, therefore I am certain she will love this rice dish. My only concern is the coconut milk, I never have any luck combining coconut milk with rice, it always makes my rice sticky. I will however try this rice with the coconut milk and will return to give you my verdict. Kiss the little Prince for me and please post new photos for us to drool over and admire.

Love & Hugs

tasteofbeirut said...


I admire your pluck! Not only do you eat the habanero but you want to pierce it too! I just bought one the other day to use as a prop for my lamb cake!
You got my curiosity going with the dish! Since my kitchen is on the vegetarian-leaning end of things and I have never tried these peas, and I have tons of basmati around, I am game! Thanks!

Deb in Hawaii said...

This dish looks delicious--I love pigeon peas and rice and the coconut and thyme sounds intriguing.

Shanthi Krishnakumar said...

Perfect rice with a great colour combo. Do drop in to my blog when time permits.

Kelly Loy Gilbert said...

This looks SO good. I'm always looking for new ways to cook beans. I'll definitely have to try this one soon!