In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Spinach Rice Simmered In Coconut Milk And Salted Pigtail.

To avoid the “check yourself emails” let me make my Trinbagonian people happy and say “bhagi rice” instead for spinach. Now on to a recipe which I try to make on those cold winter days when I crave the bright Caribbean sun and long for the days when I can be back down in my little piece of heaven The Caribbean. This is as good as it gets when it comes to comfort food for me. Though I’d much prefer to use dasheen bush bhagi, it’s easier to grow (short summers here) and easy to access (in grocery stores) Jamaican callaloo (chorai bhagi) so that will be the ‘spinach’ I’ll be using today.


You’ll Need…

2 cups chopped Jamaican callaloo
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 scotch bonnet pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon celery leaves
1 tablespoon chopped shado beni (optional)
1 scallion
2 seasoning peppers (pimento peppers)
2 cups brown rice (parboiled long grain)
tablespoon olive oil (veg oil or butter)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups water (or stock)
1 lb salted pig’s tail

* No salt as pigtail should have enough salt remaining, but do taste near the end and adjust to your liking. Important: Please go through the ingredient list if making this recipe gluten free to ensure it meets with your specific gluten free dietary needs. 


Start by cutting the salted pigtail into 1 inch pieces. Use a heavy Chinese cleaver or ask your butcher to cut them for you. Rinse off, then place in a deep pot with water (cover) and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a rolling boil and let it cook for about 45- 55 minutes. The goal is to get the pieces tender and to remove most of the salt it was cured in.Drain, rinse with cool water and set aside.

As the oil heats in a deep saucepan (med heat),  chop the onion, celery, scallion, garlic, seasoning peppers and shado beni (chadon beni or culantro. you can substitute cilantro).

Add all the chopped ingredients to the heated oil and reduce the heat to low. Let that gently cook for about 3 minutes. It’s all about flavor! In the meantime, wash, trim and cut the Jamaican callaloo into 1/4 inch ribbons. Basically take the leaves, roll into a large cigar and cut across the length of them.

Add the pieces of pre-cooked salted pig tails and give it a good stir. Let that cook for about 3 minutes. Then start adding the chopped callaloo (chorai bhagi) and stir well.

Wash the rice to remove any grit (place in a bowl with water and massage with your hands, drain and repeat until the water runs clear or place in a strainer under running water and massages until the water runs clear) then add it to the pot. Now add all the other ingredients into the pot and bring to a boil.

You’ll notice that I placed the scotch bonnet pepper whole in the pot. This will allow me to get a lot of flavor without the raw heat. If you’re into the hot-stuff, near the end you can burst that pepper open and deal with the heat. Remember to remove it from the pot when your done and DO NOT break it when stirring the pot.When the pot comes to a boil, reduce the heat so you have a gentle bubble going and cover the pot. The idea is to let this slowly cook, until all the liquid is gone and you have plump grains of rice flavored with the coconut milk, salted pigtails and herbs.

It will take between 20 and 25 minutes after putting the rice in for the dish to be fully cooked, but it depends a lot on the brand of rice you use. If you find the liquid is burning off too fast, place on a smaller burner and simmer. If after the rice is fully cooked you find that it’s a bit runny, turn up the heat to burn off and excess liquid. But do keep stirring as the high heat will cause the natural sugars in the coconut milk to burn and the rice will stick to the bottom of the pot.

Turn off the heat and keep the lid on the pot for about 5 minutes before serving.. According to my mom, this will cause the rice to ‘yield’ nicely.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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Spinach Rice Simmered In Coconut Milk And Salted Pigtail.
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  1. Delia
    March 20, 2022 / 11:43 am

    Uncle Chris,love you take on Trini home cooking! Bless up!

  2. Melissa D Adams
    July 22, 2020 / 3:03 pm

    I’m gunna use chicken instead of pigtail and see how it turn out and a side of boiled yam leaving a little bit of liquid in the pot so it can act like a sauce over the boiled yam mmmhmm

  3. Crissy Khan
    June 5, 2019 / 3:03 pm

    This year 2019 will make it 5 years I’m married, and it’s because of you my husband eats lol. Meaning I didnt know how to cook when.i got married and your easy recipes made a fun easy learning experience.keep up the good work

  4. annie
    April 5, 2018 / 7:35 pm

    Hey Chris. I had planned to make the spinach rice with coconut milk and pigtail tomorrow. I usually check your website for all my caribbean foods recipes. Your recipes never fail. Thank you.

  5. Lizz
    February 4, 2017 / 9:41 am

    Followed recipe using bahgi and pigtails was absolutely delish. Now my go to meal. Cooking again today adding oxtails and pigtails. …Thanks for sharing

  6. Natasha
    August 12, 2016 / 1:44 pm

    I usually make alot if differnt rice, but never attempted this recipe for the 1st time . And it was great. Hubby loved it.Great on the details and intructions

    • admin
      August 13, 2016 / 6:05 pm

      much thanks for the feedback and support

  7. Janine
    March 7, 2015 / 8:12 am

    Tried cooking it for the first time. Your recipe was great. My husband loved it. Thank you.

  8. cleopatra ralph
    December 2, 2014 / 7:19 am

    just love seeing all those delicious dishes make me want to jump

  9. kashaka
    October 11, 2014 / 4:28 am

    I’m guessing this is your version of calaloo and rice…have yet to see any island make this the way grenadians make this….We do it best lol..yup

  10. August 2, 2014 / 7:52 am

    Have not had this dish for quite sometime, but am gonna cook it today Saturday & have left covers for our Sunday meal. Chris, I love watching you make all these delicious meals.

  11. June 4, 2014 / 2:21 pm

    will definitely try this

  12. Krishna
    November 27, 2013 / 11:48 am

    Hi Chris,

    Could not find the chorai so I used spinach and baby bok choy. Also no pigtails so I used 1lb of fresh pork belly. I cooked the pork belly separately and then added it to the mixture. I also used only 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and 2 1/2 cups of my own homemade chicken stock. The finished product was a hit at my friends party and everyone wanted the recipie. I had also taken along some of my mango, peach, apple flavored habanero hot sauce which was all gone by the end of the party. Of course they wanted that recipie too. I just told them all to check out your website and I am sure they will appreciate the “new” dishes that they can try at their leisure. Keep up the good work of spreading the joy and enjoyment of Caribbean cooking.

  13. Dale Pilgrim Wade
    November 12, 2013 / 3:35 pm

    I made this dish ” Spinach Rice Simmered In Coconut Milk and Salted Pigtail” last week for the very first time, and it was absolutely delicious.

    I’ve always wanted to make that spinach dish (Callao) here in Jamaica but had zero idea of how to do it.

    I literally stumbled onto your video for making poluhrie week before, and saw this dish so I came back for it.Oh the polurie was good, but not great as I think my splitpeas flour was way too old…

    Thank you so, so much, as I plan to try as many of your recipes as I can…

    Funny I am Trinidadian born but migrated to NY city with my family as a child.I lived in the US all my life and rarely cooked but always loved cooking and baking, as my Dad was a baker on weekends.

    Fast forward to moving to Jamaica a few years ago with my Jamaican hubby and bam…Cooking & baking is consuming me. I can now get ALL the fresh ingredients and I grow many of my own herbs as well…

    I just got a great idea, maybe I will do a “Julie Julia” thing, and make all your dishes and start a blog “Dale Follows Chris Recipes in 60 days” as the food choices are interesting for sure…lol..Good luck with it all Chris…


  14. Rosa
    October 31, 2013 / 12:43 pm

    Yummy – I use chopped frozen spinach (squeeze out excess liquid). I also add grated carrots & corn for veggies).

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