This Jamaican Gungo peas and rice recipe is a classic Caribbean side dish that is full of traditional Caribbean flavor. Made with coconut milk, rice, and other delicious spices, this side dish goes well with your favorite Caribbean meal.
Jamaican rice and peas is a classic dish that you’ll find served with many traditional favorites, like oxtail and curry goat. Traditionally, rice and peas are made with kidney beans. And yes, it’s still called rice and peas even if you use beans.
Jamaican gungo peas and rice is made with the same base ingredients, which include coconut cream or milk, thyme, allspice berries, scallion (green onions), and a scotch bonnet pepper. However, rather than kidney beans, gungo peas, also known as pigeon peas, are subbed.
This results in a slightly different flavor and texture, but the results are equally delicious. Depending on who you ask, there will be a list of some islanders loving rice and peas with kidney beans and others loving the pigeon pea version.
How to make Gungo peas and rice
First, gather your ingredients. For this recipe, I’ll be using the canned gungo peas, making this recipe come together quickly.
Next, add rinsed rice, a can of unsweetened coconut milk, an undrained can of gungo peas, water, allspice, salt, and black pepper to a large pot. Stir to combine. Rest the scallions, whole scotch bonnet pepper, and thyme on top of the rice. This will allow the flavor of the aromatics to infuse into the rice without having to chop them up.
Bring this mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the rice to cook covered on low for 18 minutes.
After 18 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and allow it to sit, covered, for an additional 5 minutes. Once done, open the lid and remove the scotch bonnet pepper, scallions, and thyme.
Fluff the rice and peas with a fork. Serve and enjoy.
What are gungo peas?
Gungo peas, also known as pigeon peas, are a type of legume that is common in Caribbean cuisine. You can use peas in soups, stews, or side dishes. Pigeon peas are high in protein and fiber and are a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Can I use dried pigeon peas in this recipe?
Absolutely! If using dried pigeon peas, you will need to soak the peas for about 6-8 hours. After soaking, add the liquids to a pot and add the soaked peas. Cook over medium-low heat, covered, for about 1 hour, until they are tender.
Then add the rice, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for an additional 18 minutes. After 18 minutes, remove from the stove and leave covered for an additional 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving. If using dried gungo peas, add an additional 3/4 cup water to this recipe.
How to store gungo peas and rice?
Cooked gungo peas and rice can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days after making.
Where can I find gungo peas?
Gungo peas can be found in many international grocery stores or online.
Looking for more Jamaican recipes? Try these out:
Jamaican Gungo Peas and Rice Recipe
- 2 cups long-grain white rice rinsed
- 1 13.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 15 oz can gungo peas undrained
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 green onions
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper whole
- Add rice, coconut milk, gungo peas, water, salt, allspice, and black pepper in a large pot and stir until combined. Lay green onions, thyme, and scotch bonnet pepper on top. Bring mixture to a boil
- Cover with a lid and reduce heat to low. Allow to cook for 18 minutes over low heat, then remove from heat. Leave the lid on for an additional 5 minutes.
- Open the lid and remove the green onion, scotch bonnet pepper, and thyme. Fluff rice and peas with a fork. Serve and enjoy.
- I use a 4-quart dutch oven pot for this recipe.
- If adding a scotch bonnet pepper, ensure it does not have any bruises or tears. The pepper will not make your dish spicy.
- Habanero pepper can be subbed for the scotch bonnet pepper.
- If using dried gungo peas, add an additional 3/4 cups of water when making this recipe.