How To Make Rice And Peas
Rice And Peas Meal
Before heading to the kitchen to prepare a meal with rice and peas, there are certain items that are must haves! Key among the 'must-haves' are: coconut milk or powder, peas or beans of choice, rice, escallion, thyme and at least one whole pepper. It is advisable to have more than one green whole pepper, just incase you discover a hole or tear in the one you have and want to change it. If you have access, an inch of ginger and a few dried pimento berries would be ideal.
Dry Coconut For Blending
Hot Pepper On Tree
Rice Of Choice
In The Kitchen Preparations
Now that you have secured all the necessary ingredients, you are already halfway there. In continuing preparations, some of us tend to put the peas to soak in cold water. Of course this is mere habit these days as they can easily be pressured if you choose kidney beans which are the beans of choice for this meal. However, no peas or bean is wrong in making rice and peas and not all peas and beans take long to cook. If using kidney beans, you might need an hour and a half of cook time if not pressuring or unsoaked. Soaking or pressuring will take approximately an hour from your preparation time. Most other beans and peas will cook in half an hour. It is important to have the beans completely cooked before proceeding with other methods.
In the same way that there are no hard and fast rules to the type of peas or beans to use, if you are a fan of lentils like I am, you might want to add more than one type. That too is allowed, is healthier and makes for a prettier dish. Adding garlic to the water (approximately six cups of cold water) when boiling kidney beans etcetera, will also reduce cook time. If preferred, pimento, escallion and thyme can also be added at this point and later when 'seasoning' the pot.
Putting It All Together
Now that your peas or beans are pre-seasoned and cooked, it is time to put it all together. The first and most important thing at this point is the coconut milk. It is imperative to add the coconut milk to the recipe and allow it to cook for at least fifteen minutes. Having added the coconut milk, you also add the additional (optional) escallion and thyme if you haven't done so yet. At this point, you also add the whole pepper (preferably scotch bonnet). These ingredients really bring out the life of the meal and your kitchen will be smelling divine! Simply allow these ingredients to cook (the total fifteen minutes for seasoning and coconut milk should suffice. While they are being cooked, wash the rice (approximately 1 KG for 200grams of peas). Once the milk and seasoning are cooked (you will smell it, but again, it should take at least fifteen minutes), it is time to add your rice.
Simmering Rice and Peas
Having combined all your ingredients, it is now time to allow the ingredients to cook together as one. The water should be approximately one inch above the rice and this can be tested using a fork by inserting the fork into the water to see how far down the rice is. Of course there are other more scientific ways which you can choose. Once the water level is fine, allow the rice and peas to cook until all the water is barely covering the rice and bubbling. At this point, turn the flame to the lowest level and stir the pot to have a good consistency of the rice and the peas when it is finished. Allow the rice and peas to simmer until the rice is tender (approximately ten minutes). This can be checked at intervals and more water added if desired.
Rice And Peas And Chicken Meal
- 1 KG Rice, washed
- 200grams Peas/beans, washed
- One Pinch Salt, for taste/optional
- 1pack/tin/600ml coconut milk/powder, powder mixed with water
- 2 stalks Escallion, washed
- 1 sprig Thyme, washed
- One Scotch Bonnet Pepper, Green/whole
- Boil the peas in water (coconut milk can be used as substitute for water)
- Add coconut milk and seasonings
- Wash rice
- Add rice
- Stir and simmer rice and peas
Tips And Tricks
There are a few tips and tricks when cooking. I will share a few for cooking rice and peas.
1: If cooking rice and peas and it burns a bit, cut onions and place in the pot to absorb the smell.
2: If the water is dried out and the right texture isn't achieved, saran wrap can be placed at the top and allow to simmer.
3: If you are not pressuring the peas/beans, there is a method of 'sinking' the peas which allows it to cook faster. This is simply adding ice cold water to the pot of boiling peas.
4: Soaking peas or beans in the refrigerator overnight makes them cook fasther
So Where's The Meat?
Now that we have our rice and peas ready, the only question is what meat will we be serving it with. A favourite is fried or baked chicken, but whatever type of meat or even vegetable goes well with it. Bon Apetit!
Mix And Match For Perfection
Of course different people have different tastes, so I have included different recipe ideas for you to try other ingredients and methods. Personally, I love my rice and peas with brown rice or with Basmati rice. Other people prefer white rice. Likewise, some people use different methods. At the end of the day, it is about your own taste buds. I also like substituting corn for peas and some people simply must have the actual coconut and blend it to make their own milk. That way you get the real taste of the coconut milk. I have also learnt that Haitians fry their seasonings before using them to cook the rice and peas. That should also be great tasting, especially if fried in butter for those of us who don't mind. At the end of the day, just have fun with your food and try something different.