Jamaican-themed dinner featuring Coconut Rice and ‘Peas’

15 Jan

Inspiration for Saturday night’s dinner came from an unexpected source: Gordon Ramsay.  The British chef best known for his profanity and fiery temper reveals a softer side on his new show, Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course.  Each episode features a dizzying number of tips, tricks, and recipes that revolve around a theme deemed by Ramsay to be essential know-how for the modern cook.  Saturday’s topic was ‘cooking with chilli’ and featured a classic jerk chicken—one of E’s favourite dishes.

When I think of jerk chicken, Jamaica immediately comes to mind… and when I think of Jamaica, I think of Rice and Peas.  An odd association since I’ve never actually eaten Rice and Peas before.  Rice and Peas is a mainstay of the Jamaican diet and consists of rice cooked in coconut milk with pigeon peas (or cowpeas, or kidney beans) and flavoured with ginger, thyme, garlic and onion.  An easy, flavourful side dish that pairs well with spicy jerk seasoning.

Rice and Beans

To complete the meal, we made a chunky salad with mango, bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, and lots of cilantro.  The sweetness from the mango balanced the fragrant coconut rice and intense jerk spices just perfectly.  It was like sunshine on a plate—colourful, fruity, and fresh.  Regrettably, several things were missing from our Jamaican meal: the beach, palm trees, Red Stripe beer, and Bob Marley music playing in the background.

Mango Salad

Jamaican Rice and Peas
(adapted very slightly from SimplyRecipes.com)

Fear not: the rice has no heat despite containing a whole chili.  The chili acts like a bay leaf and gives the dish flavour. 

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup quick-cooking brown rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 of a 19-oz can of no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained (~1 cup)
1 whole Scotch bonnet chile (can substitute a whole habanero)
Lime (optional)

  1. Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the garlic and rice, stir well and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add the salt, thyme, grated ginger, water, stock and coconut milk and stir well. Add the kidney beans and the whole Scotch bonnet chile (or habanero).  Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and cover.
  4. Cook for ~20 minutes, or according to rice package directions.  Once done, remove from heat and cover for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving and sprinkle with lime juice if desired.  Discard the habanero (or eat it, if you dare!)

Makes 5 servings. Per serving: 245 kcal, 40 g CHO, 3.9 g fibre, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 7 g protein, 145 mg sodium.

2 Responses to “Jamaican-themed dinner featuring Coconut Rice and ‘Peas’”

  1. Alex January 16, 2013 at 6:30 am #

    this will be my dinner tomorrow night, thanks for the inspiration, I am looking for something different 🙂

    • lisa January 21, 2013 at 12:56 am #

      Let me know what you think!

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