One of ubiquitous (it was on every buffet, morning, noon, and night) dishes on my recent holiday was beans and rice or more rightly as I was informed, Peas and Rice. I imagine that at one point the locals referred to most lugumes as peas and the name stuck. Perhaps someone has more information?

Rice and beans are a mainstay in many countries, but in Jamaica, they sometimes use coconut milk for part of the cooking liquid for the rice. This gives a sweetness and richness not found in other preparations.

A traditional accompaniment to protein dishes and was excellent with jerk chicken and brown stew chicken, it is also substantial enough to serve as a main with a side salad.

This was my second attempt at the rice. The first try was, as my kids would call it, an “Epic Fail!” Gloppy and sticky, I think I used too much coconut milk. I also used beans “from scratch” and while that wasn’t the cause of the failure, it did take a bit of time so this time I decided to use a can of beans. I wish I had a pig to feed my mistakes. Ah well…

You could, I imagine, use almost any bean, but they used small red beans and kidney beans.

Since this is cooking 2 cups of rice you need enough liquid between the coconut milk and the water to equal 4 cups or 1 liter.  Don’t be afraid of the hot chilli in this recipe. Left whole it adds a fruity perfume note and not heat.

Jamaican Peas and Rice

Serves 6

1 can (15.5 oz ~ 439 g) red kidney beans drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
1 green onion (scallion) rough chopped
1 can (14 fl oz ~ 400 ml) coconut milk
18 fl oz (512 ml) water
2 cups (380 g) long grain rice rinsed
1 scotch bonnet or habanero chili – left whole
Juice of one lime – 2 tablespoons (30 ml)
Lime or cilantro for garnish


  1. In a medium pot add the beans, garlic, chopped green onion, coconut milk, and water
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Stir in Rice
  4. Drop in whole chilli
  5. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer 20-30 minutes
  6. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes
  7. Remove whole chilli and discard
  8. Sprinkle with lime juice and fluff with a fork
  9. Garnish with Lime wedge if desired

I think one of the nice things about this recipe, is that it is really cooking from the pantry. I think most modestly appointed pantries have rice and beans in them. I like to cook Thai style curries so I usually have some coconut milk on hand, and it is carried in most supermarkets. The only thing is the chilli and while it adds a nice fruit flavor as I said before, you could skip it and it still would be delicious.

Try this easy taste of the islands on a cold winter night and warm your spirit!

Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!