Cooking Rice and Peas Jamaican Style
Many people identify Jamaica with beautiful white sand beaches with clear blue waters. Jamaica offers more than unspoiled nature, given its motto – Out of many one people, one will find a mixture of ethnicities and more which have impacted on some of the traditional dishes we now prepare today. One such traditional dish is rice and peas, which has become famous as one of our Sunday Jamaican dishes.
Rice and peas is prepared using a combination of rice and peas.
This dish provides a good source of complex carbohydrates and a healthy balance of proteins; the addition of herbs such as pimento seeds, fresh thyme and scallion gives this dish a wonderful aroma and an unusual “kick” to the olfactory glands. This dish is usually served with meat, poultry or fish, as the rice and peas counteracts the spiciness of the main meat dish. Preparing this dish is not as complicated as one may think, and if one takes a chance to try it, then one might just find themselves loving it.
The four major steps that are involved in the making of this dish are the gathering of the ingredients, the preparation of the peas, the extraction of the coconut milk and the cooking process. First, you will need to gather all the needed ingredients to make the rice and peas. The appetizing set of ingredients vital for this dish are: red kidney beans, rice, garlic, green scotched bonnet pepper, escallion, thyme, salt to taste and coconut milk or a coconut.
Please remember that the coconut milk and the herbs used are very essential for the taste of this dish and it will make the difference from the other types of rice dishes that you might have had before. Several pieces of equipment are also necessary: medium-sized bowl, measuring cup, fork and spoon and a pot. Having obtained all of the specified ingredients and equipment, the next step is the preparation of the peas or beans and the dry coconut. Many types of beans can be used such as red kidney beans, pigeon peas, gungo peas and black-eyed beans and cowpeas.
If fresh peas are being used then these have to be washed and boiled for forty-five (45) minutes or more until tender. If dried beans are used, soaking them overnight in plenty of cold garlic water is recommended. After that rinse and drain the soaked beans and boil in fresh salted water until tender. The peas can be tested to see if they are cooked by crushing them against the lid of the pot. If they crush easily, then you are ready to move on to the next step. The next step is the extraction of the coconut milk.
Using a metal skewer the softest eye of the coconut must be pierced to drain the liquid into a bowl. With a hammer or the back of a heavy machete break shell and with the point of a sturdy knife pry the meat out of the shell in chunks doing so carefully. Grate coconut on small tear drop shaped holes of a four sided grater or finely chop in a food processor or a blender. To make the coconut milk, water should be added to the grated coconut pulp and be left in the bowl for about five (5) minutes.
Using a fine sieve or cloth pressed in the hand to extract the liquid and keep out the coconut pulp. It is important to note that once the liquid is extracted hot water can once again be poured on the same coconut flesh to make another extract. You are now ready to begin cooking. The previous step is very important because the coconut milk helps to add the unique flavour to this traditional meal. The extracted coconut milk along with garlic is added to the pot in which the peas and water have been simmering.
When the peas are fully cooked, salt, uncut scotch bonnet pepper, thyme and escallion are added to the pot. The aroma from the herbs makes their presence known and there will be a strong sinus healing smell that will tickle the inside of your nose. After all the ingredients have been cooking together for a time or more importantly when the peas are fully tender and deemed to be cooked, the washed rice is then added to pot. A fork or wooden spoon can be used to combine everything.
It is recommended that this dish be prepared on a low fire until done. If all the steps above are followed, one can say that they have now mastered the art of cooking Jamaican rice and peas from scratch using a combination of basic ingredients found in Jamaica. The processing time is approximately two (2 hours or more. I’m quite sure that given the tastiness of this dish it will be eaten in less time than that. Please follow all the suggested steps and include all the listed necessary ingredients and you will see or rather taste the end result.