TinTin (Christina), my dad’s mom guarded her dried pigeon peas like they do gold at Ft Knox. It was common knowledge that if peas were out of season, she had some stored in airtight bottles somewhere in the dimly lit-smoky kitchen of hers. I still recall the scent of that kitchen, a mixture of the musty tobacco she always had drying in the ceilings and the smoke from the different types of hard-wood she would use to fire-up the coal pot she would use to to cook her meals. Not to mention the actual smoke from the pipe she smoked all her life! To this day, I’m still to taste a stewed dried pigeon peas like the stew this woman would make on that coal pot, in that simple kitchen.
Since I never have enough time to cook the dried peas as is needed… in this recipe we’ll use the canned stuff and drastically cut back on the cooking time. So students, busy individuals or maybe you’re just lazy (smart) and want to eat well, you’ll find this recipe very handy.
1 Can dry Pigeon peas (540 ml / 19 fl oz)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 med tomato
1 cup diced bell pepper
1 scotch bonnet pepper (keep whole)
1 med onion
2 cloves garlic
3 sprigs thyme
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon parsley
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
optional – grated ginger – diced carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato
Note: If doing this recipe gluten free, do go through the entire list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs (especially the Worcestershire sauce)
Prep all the ingredients (chop/dice the peppers, tomatoes, scallions, celery, onion, parsley, garlic.. but do keep the scotch bonnet pepper whole) By keeping the Scotch Bonnet whole we’ll get the flavor from the oils and not the raw heat..unless you want the raw heat, then you’d break it open as it cooks. Now heat the olive oil on a medium flame (I used a non stick pan so I use less oil), then add the celery, garlic, tomato, parsley, thyme, onion, black pepper and scallions. Turn the heat down to low and let it gently cook for about 3-5 mins.
Drain and rinse the dried pigeon peas (aka Congo pea, gungo pea, gunga pea, fio-fio, no-eye pea) so you remove most of the brine/sodium it’s packed in, then add it to the pan. Turn the heat up to med/high.
Add the rest of the ingredients and bring it up to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer (remember to add the scotch bonnet whole and try to NOT break it open) and let it cook for about 15 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust at this point – I added a pinch as I find that he peas is usually high in salt and can almost be enough to season this dish. but your tolerance for salt will be different than mine. If you wanted to add some additional body to this stewed peas dish or just stretch it a bit you can add some diced potato, sweet potato or diced pumpkin when you added the peas to the pot. You’ll then need to add a bit more liquid and obviously adjust the salt.
If you find that the gravy is a bit thin (remember as it cools it will thicken a bit) you can use the back of your spoon to crush them a bit and it will help to thicken things up.
If you’re wondering why if my grandmother’s name is Christina (yea, I’m Christopher and my sister is Christine.. my daughter is Christyon), why did I call her TinTin? Good question.. to this day, that’s just the name everyone in our village calls her and to be honest, I have no clue why. If you’re from the Caribbean, chances are at some point in your life you’ve had a nickname.. I’ve had over 15 so far.