Barbados - Bajan Peas and Rice Recipe
My Father's Recipe
This is a personal experience recipe. My father began teaching me to cook peas and rice at age 10. We had this dish every Sunday with enough left over for Monday’s dinner or for unexpected guest. Rice and peas is a staple of the Barbadian diet. Nearly every Barbadian meal includes rice and peas. Many Barbadians are of the belief that a Sunday meal without a rice dish is incomplete. African rice has been cultivated for 3500 years making peas and rices a familiar dish for the slaves in Barbados.
My father always started out EVERY session with, “I can’t teach you how to cook. You have to feel it.” What I finally figured out was there were no measurements. I had to learn to add or subtract ingredients until I got it right. I learned patience because this not a dish to rush. I learned to cook with soul (feelings). I can give you the basics, but you have to “feel” when it’s right for you. We had a rice pot – used for cooking rice on Sundays. It was sort of “seasoned” so the rice did not stick. We never soaked this pot – EVER. I called it the “Army-Navy” pot because it was so big.
Peas and Rice - Main Ingredients
Peas and rice is a dish that is eaten throughout the Caribbean. We used Pigeon peas which are related to the tender green sweet peas but are much higher in protein and vitamins, making this a very nutritious dish. Depending on the type of meat or fish, the peas (beans) changed, like blackeyed peas with roast pork. I use smoke turkey now instead of the salt pork meat.
The Pigeon Peas and Rice
For our purposes here we are using dried pigeon peas. Peas are used to describe edible seeds from the Fabaceae such as the pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan ), the cowpea (Vigna unguiculata ). Pigeon pea is called toor dal in India, Congo pea, Gungo pea in Jamaica, Gandule in Puerto Rico, and other names. The growing of the pigeon pea goes back approximately 3000 years. Pigeon peas are very drought resistant and can be grown in areas with small annual rainfall.
Pigeon peas are a food crop used as dried peas, flour, or green vegetable peas. They contain high levels of protein and the important amino acids methionine, lysine, and tryptophan, making the peas and rice dish a great food source by itself.
Parboiled rice is subjected to a steaming or parboiling process while still a brown rice. This causes nutrients from the outer husk, especially thiamine, to move into the grain itself. The parboil process causes a gelatinization of the starch in the grains. My father favored UNCLE BEN’S® ORIGINAL CONVERTED® Brand Long Grain Rice. It has a great yield and is very forgiving when too much water is added. This rice should not be washed.
- 16oz bag of dried pigeon Use ½ bag
- 1 cup rice
- 3-4 dried Bay leaf (Bay Laurel, Laurus nobilis)
- ¼ -½ lb Smoked turkey, salt beef, salt pork or use vegetable broth for meatless rice
- Small onion peeled stuck with 3 whole cloves
- 2 Celery stalk
- Bajan spice mix: Bajan seasoning is a blend of fresh herbs such as thyme, marjoram, spring onions, onions, garlic, parsley, basil and scotch bonnet pepper with spices such as clove, black pepper, paprika and salt.
- 4-5 whole peppercorns
Wash turkey and place in pot with enough water to cover. Add the onion, Bay leaf, celery, Bajan seasoning. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
Wash and pick through peas. Discard bad peas. Cover peas with cold water and place in refrigerator to soak overnight. Discard water and add fresh cold water. Alternative method: Cover peas with cold water in a pot with one bay leaf. Bring to a boil and turn off heat. Let peas soak for a minimum of one hour. Peas should soak up most of the water.
Replace water with fresh cold water, add Bay leaf and bring to boil. Only add enough water to cover peas. When the peas are soft enough to squeeze between your fingers but not fully cook, about 20 minutes. ***Add rice, meat and water from seasoned meat to cover. Don’t add too much water. You can add as needed. *** If you are using large pieces of turkey like leg or wings, leave them in their pot to fully cook. Only remove the seasoned water as needed for peas and rice.
Stir peas and rice to evenly distribute only once. Avoid stirring the rice mixture during the cooking process. It makes the rice mushy. Cover pot tightly and cook over a low heat. After 15 minutes check to see if more water is needed. Avoid opening pot otherwise. If your stove is not level, reposition the pot (turn it around) to make sure the rice cooks evenly.
The water in the pot should be absorbed by the peas and rice. The rice should double. After 20-25 minutes the liquid should be gone or almost. Peas and rice should be soft and cooked. If not, add a ½ cup of liquid and cover pot tightly. Continue cooking for 5 more minutes, then turn off heat. Rice mixture will continue to cook. Don't try to speed up cooking by using high heat. Rice will stick and burn on bottom, while top portion of rice is not cooked. Patience
If too much liquid's been add – heat your oven to 250-300 degrees. Place rice mixture in an oven proof dish if pot will not fit in oven. This process should help the liquid evaporate.
Resources and Work Sited
- Barbados - National Cuisine
Barbados is best known to tourist for the food. The Amerindian cleared small areas for huts and fields of cassava, maize peanuts, guavas, papaws (papaya), cotton and sweet potato. The first indigenous...
- Cereal Knowledge Bank (IRRI & CIMMYT) > Rice
- Cook\'s Thesaurus: Rice
Gives synonyms, equivalents, and substitutions for various kinds of rice.
- Slavery in America
- Vegan Bajan Rice & Stew Vegan In The Sun
- Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Pigeon peas (red gram), mature seeds, raw
Nutrition facts and Information for Pigeon peas (red gram), mature seeds, raw
More by this Author
Once there was a time when African-American slaves and freemen, and whites worshiped together before The Emancipation Proclamation.
Are there any full blooded "white" people? Alas white men like Thomas Jefferson whose four surviving "natural" children by his mixed-race slave Sally Hemings were 7/8 European in ancestry and so they were legally white...
Bacalhau is the Portuguese word for dried and salted codfish. Salting is a traditional way of preserving fish in Greece, and these hard-as-a-rock boards are a favorite in Greek cooking. Baccalà is Italian for salt cod.