In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Dry Pigeon Peas Rice (vegetarian)


This is one of those recipes I associate with my grandmother who would always have dried pigeon peas stored in re-purposed glass ketchup bottles, in a dark corner of her smoky kitchen (she cooked with an open wood fire – called a coal pot). While she would save hers for making stew peas and pelau, the odd time she would make this rice dish, it was a bit different than what I’m about to share. If you have a pressure cooker you can cook the peas in a much faster time, but I quite like this slow method.

You’ll Need…

1 cup dried pigeon peas
3 cups parboil brown rice (washed)
1 tablespoon olive oil (coconut oil works great)
1/2 medium onion diced
4 sprigs thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 scallions (chopped)
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper (see note below)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups water (divided)
3/4 teaspoon salt (adjust)

Optional ingredients
2 cloves garlic
slice of ginger

Note: If doing this recipe gluten free, be sure to go through all the ingredients to ensure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs. You may float a whole scotch bonnet pepper instead of a cut piece as I did. Be sure to NOT break it while it cooks or you will be in for some SERIOUS heat! Always remember to wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling hot peppers.

Quickly go through the dried pigeon peas to ensure there’s no debris, wash it with cool water then place in a bowl (it will expand, so keep that in mind)  and cover with water. Allow it to soak for a couple hours or overnight.


Chop, dice and slice all the ingredients. Then in a heavy pot over a medium heat, go in with the oil, after which you add all the ingredients except the pigeon peas, salt, rice, water and coconut milk.  Turn the heat down to low and gently cook for about 4-5 minutes.



It’s now time to add the soaked pigeon peas along with the coconut milk, salt and 1 cup of water. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil.


Reduce to a gentle simmer (very low), cover the pot and allow this to cook until the peas are tender. It will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes. After that time, check to see if they are tender (cook longer if necessary), then add the washed rice and the rest of the water. Turn the heat up and bring to a boil. To wash the rice you have a couple options. place in a deep bowl, fill with water and massage with your fingers/hand. Dump out the first batch of water when cloudy and repeat until the water is relatively clear. Or you can place in a strainer and run water over it while you massage. Do so until the water runs clear.


When it comes to a boil, stir  and place the lid back on the pot. Reduce the heat to low and allow to cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is fully cooked – about 25 minutes. Shut off the stove and leave it covered for 15 minutes.


Now it’s time to remove the lid and fluff with a fork so you have nice grainy rice.




Remember to remove the stems off thyme and discard before serving. This pigeon peas and rice is quite comforting and goes well with a side of Jerk Chicken as we enjoyed this night.

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Dry Pigeon Peas Rice (vegetarian)
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  1. Chantelle LaPrairie
    March 13, 2021 / 6:12 pm

    I think the water amount is incorrect…for three cups of rice only 3.5 cups of liquid?

    • Jamie
      May 25, 2022 / 4:25 pm

      Thats why its parboiled rice. Takes less water.

  2. Will
    April 25, 2019 / 7:57 pm

    How can i make this with canned pigeon peas?

  3. Fran
    May 4, 2018 / 11:16 am

    Quick question, how many does this serve?

    • Chantelle LaPrairie
      March 13, 2021 / 7:09 pm

      6 or more…depending on their appetite 🤣. Also instead of one cup of water in the rice stage, add an additional 2 and a half cups of water. The water amount is incorrect.

  4. Dee
    March 10, 2018 / 2:13 pm

    If this is so vegetarian, why did you put a big piece of chicken next to it??!!!??

    • admin
      March 11, 2018 / 4:13 pm

      the dish is vegetarian.. If I choose to eat or put meat next to it, that MY choice. The nonsense people post I tell you.

      • Katumi
        June 12, 2018 / 8:13 pm

        Thanks for the recipe and I agree with you, not a meat product in the recipe but you still get a stupid comment like that…

      • Saundra
        January 1, 2019 / 12:29 pm

        Thank you for taking the time to post the recipe. It is turning out very nice. The taste is awesome. Oh and no need to explain the chicken on the side, because anyone with common sense knows that is an option. It works well for common sense vegetarians that will know not to add the chicken to their plate.

  5. Dougie
    March 11, 2017 / 8:54 pm

    This is the way my Jamaican grandmother and mother cooked rice and peas!

  6. December 28, 2016 / 12:27 pm

    The ingredients read like the same way Jamaicans make their red beans and rice… only thing different is the peas. It’s nice to see our countries’ similarities.

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