Gungo Peas and rice is a classic Jamaican holiday side. The peas are usually very plentiful in November and December but people are finding ways to make this all year round. The peas are tender and have a flavor that is very different from red kidney beans. They are cooked in coconut milk with a combination of spices and fresh seasonings. My grandmother’s only rule was that rice and peas should taste really good all on its own without the need for gravy or meat. I’ve learned since then that it’s best to not cut corners with this dish and to flavor it really well. If you can, go with fresh coconut milk and skip the canned beans as well. Cooking this from scratch does add a bit of time to the overall cook, but it’s WELL worth it.
- 8 oz (1 cup) of Green Gungo Peas
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 cups of Basmati rice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 scallions, chopped finely
- 1/2 of an onion, chopped finely
- 10 sprigs thyme
- 5-7 Pimento seeds
- 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper, preferably green
- 1 tsp white or black pepper
- 1 tsp Maggi all purpose or 1 bouillon cube
- Salt to taste
- Cook peas with garlic for 20 mins in 2 cups of water. The peas are cooked when they easily mash between your fingers.
- After peas are cooked, add coconut milk, scallion, onion, thyme and scotch bonnet (keep whole) to the pot. Give the pot a good stir. Add in the all purpose seasoning, pepper and salt and stir to combine. Taste the milk to ensure it is flavorful and tastes a bit salty. The rice will taste exactly like the water so be sure that it is flavorful and has enough salt.
- Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil on high heat.
- Wash the rice and drain it in a colander. Wash the rice and discard the water about 3 times or until the water runs clear.
- Once the liquid comes up to a boil, uncover the pot and add the rice. Give the rice a good stir and cover the pot.
- Allow the liquid to completely cook off on high heat. This should take 10-12 minutes but keep a close watch on this as the rice cooks. If there are some bubbly wet spots in the rice, keep the heat high and watch for those spots to completely dry out for a few minutes. As soon as the liquid cooks off, the rice will begin to adhere to the pan and burn. It's key to watch this closely. There will be beans sitting on top of the rice once the rice dries out. Do not stir the rice.
- Once all of the water has dried out, reduce the heat to low heat and re-cover the pot. This will allow the steam to rise in the pot and get trapped under the cover. The steam will continue to cook the grains causing them to open without sticking to each other. Allow the rice to steam this way for about 15 minutes or until the grains are open and soft.
- Once the rice has cooked, remove pepper and thyme sticks. Thyme sticks should be completely rid of the leaves by this point. Use a fork to fluff the rice and serve hot.