Jamaican Rice & Peas (Brown Rice)


Rice and peas is one of my all-time favorite dishes to make. I have been making this dish since I was a child, except that I used white rice instead of brown.

Back home in Jamaica, we refer to kidney beans as peas, hence the name. Traditionally rice and peas is eaten every Sunday for dinner, using dried kidney beans that are soaked the night before and freshly squeezed coconut milk. Thyme is the herb of choice and scotch bonnet pepper is added to the pot whole for flavor. Be careful not to open the pepper, because it is extremely hot.

Normally when I make this dish, I don’t use a recipe; I just make sure the ri­­­ce has enough water and that I have all the ingredients listed. If the water dries out I add a little extra water and I’m good to go. No formal gathering in Jamaica is complete without some rice and peas…I hope you enjoy this little taste of the tropics in the convenience of your home!

Fresh beans and coconut milk are the preferred ingredients but living here in USA is difficult for me to find fresh coconut. Thai brand coconut has a great flavor so I prefer to use it as a substitute for fresh coconut milk.

I grew up in Jamaica where I would help my mother in preparing the coconut milk, I would pick the coconut, remove the husk using a machete and crack the shell open. Then remove the coconut flesh with a knife and grate it using a fine grater. I would then squeeze the milk with added water and strain. This was all done by hand, it was a task but it was worth it because nothing beat the flavor of fresh coconut milk.

In Jamaica, we use pigeon peas or kidney beans. You can use either or, as a matter of fact, I have used almost any kind of beans I have on hand. I have used, lentil, black beans, pinto beans with yummy results. So go ahead and be creative and break some traditions!


  • 3/4 cup dried red kidney beans or pigeon peas (1-15 oz. can)
  • 3 cups long grain brown rice
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 cups water divided
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste


1.If using dried kidney beans, rinse and sort beans and place into a large pot. Cover with approximately three inches of water and soak overnight.

2.The following day, drain and rinse beans and place into a large pot. Add approximately 1 1/2 cups water and bring to boil.

3.Reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender, about 45 minutes. Add extra water if necessary.

4.Add coconut milk, remaining water, onion, spring onion, ginger, scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, garlic, allspice, and salt.

5.Add rice and stir with a fork to combine, check to make sure there is 1 1/2 inch of liquid covering rice.

6.Cover pot, bring to boil again. Reduce heat and cook for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

7.Depending on the variety of rice, it may take less time. Fluff with a fork and serve.


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  1. I can’t wait to try this. We JUST got back from Jamaica and my boyfriend loved the rice and peas we had. We also got some of Mama Marley’s East Indian Spice Marinade that I’m going to use with chicken and serve with the rice and peas. :D

  2. I cook with (canned) coconut milk so much and yet I have never had fresh and have always wondered what it would taste like! Also, I am really glad to hear you say you have tried lots of different legumes. I definitely prefer throwing in whatever beans I have handy. Great recipe!

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