In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Tantalizing Red Kidney Beans For Sunday Lunch.

redbean with rice and stew chickenWhat  would Sunday lunch on the islands be without either Callaloo or stewed red beans as part of this cherished meal? A time when families get together to share good food, thoughts and good times after a long and hectic week. Add in some stewed chicken and macaroni pie and you’re set to have one of those meals that takes you back to places you’ve not been to in years… for me it’s like traveling back in time to a happier place. Since I’m the only one who enjoy this dish in our household, I tend to make a fairly big batch (enough for about 8 people) and freeze the leftovers in freeze containers for future use. Packaged well, they can last up to 3 months without getting freezer burned. Then all I do is take it out of the freezer and allow to thaw and reheat on very gentle heat and I’m set for another awesome meal.

I must mention a couple things before we get to the actual recipe. 1. Try to get the sort of pinkish colour beans, as it cooks much faster than the dark red version. 2. You’ll notice that it does take a while to cook, but you can save on time by cooking in a pressure cooker if you wish. Just keep checking to see when the beans are tender as I don’t know how long it would take in the pressure cooker.

You’ll Need…

3 cups of red kidney beans (dry)
3 cloves garlic
2 sprigs thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
dash black pepper
hot pepper (as much as you like) I used a small habanero
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion sliced
2 carrots (diced) optional
1 bell pepper (sweet pepper) diced – optional
water (see in directions)
1 teaspoon Caribbean style “browning”
2 table spoon chopped shado beni or cilantro
1 scallion (diced thin)
1/2 tablespoon Golden Ray butter (optional, but adds that true island flavour so I could not leave this out)

* The “optional” ingredients mentioned above were not used in my recipe today, but it does add a bit more flavour and body to the dish so I do recommend using them.

For best results I recommend soaking the dry beans overnight in water, but before you do so quickly go through the beans to check to see that there are no foreign objects within the beans. In the past I’ve found little pebbles and twigs that had to be removed. Then wash the beans with running water and place in a fairly deep bowl. Now cover with water so all the beans are under water and allow to soak on the kitchen counter overnight.

trinidad redbean recipe

The next step is to pour the beans and water it’s been soaking in, into a deep pot and add some more water  so it’s covered by at least 2 inches of water. Then add the salt, black pepper, hot pepper, garlic (whole.. it will melt away as it cooks) and sprigs of thyme to the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer, with the pot covered.Allow this to cook for about 1.5 to 2 hours or until the beans are plump and tender. BTW… If you’re adding the carrots and bell peppers to the dish, this is when you add it as well.

trinidad and tobago stew beans recipe

*TIP! After the beans are tender you can remove the sprigs of thyme from the pot and discard.

Since I used the sort of pinkish coloured beans I mentioned above, my beans were tender in about 70 minutes or so. The final step is to now heat the oil in another deep pot and add the sliced onion and cook for a couple minutes (until the edges start going golden). Using some care… take a large spoon and start adding the now tender beans to the pot with the cooked onions. The idea is to pour everything into the pot with the onions. Remember you’re adding liquid to a pot with heated oil, so please be careful. Stir this around a bit and now add the “browning” as this gives it a sort of nutty caramel flavour and it also adds a lovely rich colour to the overall dish. Then I add the scallion, shado beni or cilantro and the Goldenray butter to the pot.

The last thing you do is to get a “swizzle stick” or whisk (don’t use one of those electric ones) and whisk everything a bit so some of the beans break up and form a sort of creamy consistency (but remember to not over crush the beans… you still want to see whole beans). If you find that it’s overly thick, feel free to add some water and if it’s too thin, turn up the heat and thicken it up a bit. It should be almost the consistency of a thick soup or chili.

From the time you add the cooked beans to the pot, it will take about 10 minutes on medium heat to finish cooking.

stewing redbeans in trinidad

how to cook red beans

how to cook kidney beans

seasoning for red kidney beans

browning for stew red beans trini style

trini recipe for cooking stew beans

caribbean kidney beans recipe

trinidad stew red beans recipe

trini stew redbeans

In the pick above I have a wonderful plate of the red beans, with long grain brown rice, stew chicken and a couple slices of zaboca (avocado) on the side. Just need some plantains and I’d be in heaven.

I’m sure there are different ways of making this dish, but this is a simplified version that’s just as tasty as any you’d find on a table for Sunday lunch on the islands. Before I go I’d like to remind you to leave me your comments (there’s no need to register..simply add you comments) in the area provided below and don’t forget to join our Facebook fan page. Remember, it’s my goal to have the largest FB fan page dedicated to the culinary culture of the islands and I can’t do it without YOU!

TIP! Before I leave… remember that this will thicken up with it cools down, so if it looks a bit runny when it’s still hot, don’t thicken.. it will have a great consistency when it cools down a bit.

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  1. Hotspringer
    January 21, 2023 / 6:30 pm

    I make much the same with black turtle beans – but then all pulses are delicious and good for you.

  2. December 27, 2018 / 10:58 am

    I grew up with this recipe. My mom uses to make it, she included pig tail. I now make this at least twice per month.

  3. Sato
    April 28, 2018 / 11:08 pm

    Hey Chris, I use a tablespoon of baking powder to put in the water I soak the beans in, it helps soften up the beans. Rinse the beans after soaking and add fresh water to boil. I also add a couple tomatoes and some tomato paste when cooking the beans.

  4. Trevor
    September 21, 2016 / 4:39 pm

    hey, you forgot out the pig tail or salt beef.

  5. Hamel
    December 20, 2015 / 6:28 pm

    Hi there thank you for the read bean. All I need is golden rayears but I live in colorado.

    • Tee Mmm
      December 5, 2016 / 7:14 pm

      Hi Hamel. If you need the Golden Ray, let me know. I’m in NYC and would be happy to send it to you.

  6. shelton
    November 7, 2015 / 9:24 pm

    I’m gonna try this recipe tomorrow.

  7. Phyllis
    January 19, 2015 / 4:09 pm

    Hi Chris, have you tried adding some coconut cream to your stew peas, it’s great and adds another dimension to the overall flavour.

  8. Sherrie
    December 18, 2013 / 9:27 am

    Hi Chris, red bean is my favourite bean!! I like it even more than pigeon peas :)…The only thing I do differently is that I boil the beans without any seasoning or salt. I then sauté all of the seasonings and veggies in oil and golden ray for short while and then add the beans/liquid, salt and cook down a bit. There you have it..I would like to take this time to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2014!!!

  9. September 29, 2013 / 1:33 am

    Hi Chris I note you cook the beans in the water they have soaked in. my wife who comes from St Vincent rinses the beans, boils them in fresh water for ten minutes, strains and rinses then continues cooking with fresh boiling water with all the additional flavouring, a method handed down from several generations of her mother’s family. I’m an English guy, a couple of years off eighty been dining on Caribbean fare for 56 years my favourite dish is saltfish,akee,and callaloo WOW! I love all the dishes from the Caribbean and your recipes are great. Many thanks for the postings

  10. Flashinglight
    February 2, 2013 / 4:54 pm

    Hi Chris sometimes I add a couple pieces of pig tail to this pot.

  11. Reme
    September 18, 2012 / 12:32 pm

    Thanks Chris..I love all you postings. My kid is an American and goes back to TT ever so often her fav dish is red bean! Thanks for the recepie!

  12. vanessa belcon
    July 22, 2012 / 9:45 pm

    The only thing i do differently is that I add a light dusting of roasted geera and a couple seeds, not an entire pod just a couple seeds of crushed cadammom!!!!!! I had an uncle who lived in Ghana for a couple and he gave me this recipe when he returned home!!!!

  13. Juliette Noel
    July 15, 2012 / 10:39 am

    Love this it looks just like m y cooking and your recipes are so easy and not expensive to get the ingridients.

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  15. karen
    April 20, 2012 / 2:24 pm

    OMG! I love red beans my fav. when I made this receipe and saw the sprig of thyme in the pot took me back to my mom cooking red beans. Taste so good just like this!!!

  16. Kate
    February 25, 2012 / 11:16 pm

    I love how we find out how we are all related by nature of our food if nothing else!!!
    I am a African American, who grew up with this same dish, only my Mom cooked the beans with smoked lean ham hock. We would often have this with fried chicken , Moms' coleslaw and cornbread. The beans are very similar to what "Popeye sells as their signature dish. .
    Thank you for sharing all these dishes. Most are the same as those I grew up with, and my Mom grew up in Texas. I grew up in Missouri.

  17. Cheeya
    April 18, 2011 / 11:27 pm

    Hey Chris! Just made this but added cherry tomato & sliced green banana, sooo delicous^_^

  18. Leisha Lovelace
    February 19, 2011 / 2:11 pm

    Hi Chris, great recipe but like you forget the pumpkin? It's a true Trini thing.

  19. Jae
    December 21, 2010 / 12:53 pm

    I made the beans and the entire family loved them. I had NONE left over! They were awesome….i made them along with kingfish, plaintain and bake.

  20. Tee jay
    December 17, 2010 / 9:49 am

    swizzle d beans..lamo, whe d pimmento…..pigtail?. Just me teasing

    Good post however the red ones have a stronger flavour. Soak them overnight and a little brown sugar during cooking prevents gas. freshly bought peas put in pressure and wait for the first plast turn heat to low and count 7 blasts after. the peas is tender, then impart your flavours…….oh you forget the pumpkin and Tomato (optional) which gives it the consistancy u're looking for right from the start. 1 cup peas to 6 cups water for the pessure cooker

    Old peas 3 mths and over 21 blasts……. Golden ray tastes good but really bad for you the secret flavouring is roucu but I know this is probally hard to get in foreign… look it under Annatto the Mexicans and south americans tend to usi it in their cooking as well


  21. November 7, 2010 / 7:51 am

    Oh Man, I made some Jamaica stew peas the other day with pig-tails, soooo good. Ummmm, time to make some stew peas again. Your posts always make me hungry!

  22. Asha
    July 15, 2010 / 2:46 pm

    Yum! Can't wait tuh try dis one!

  23. June 29, 2010 / 7:59 pm

    Love this dish, my mother is from Haiti and this is a classic Haitian dish. Two thumbs up in my book. Instead of the zaboca I would go for a boiled plantain. This simple dish always makes me feel loved and close to my mom. Love it =)

  24. Stacy
    June 29, 2010 / 12:36 am

    I made a big pot of this and It never made it to the freezer, it was too good. Thanks Chris. Really love all the pics accompanying the recipes.

  25. June 22, 2010 / 8:29 pm

    This sounds like my kind of meal! We use plenty of avocados in our kitchen… and my husband love browning too, his excuse is that he does not like his chicken white

    • June 23, 2010 / 9:22 pm

      I know all too well about not liking white chicken… in Trini people usually say "meat looking sick" when there's no colour to it.

      I could honestly eat avocados daily…with every meal.

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