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.
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)
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.