Rice and Peas – A Caribbean Staple

Rice and Peas Recipe - Nevis Style

Rice and Peas Recipe – Nevis Style

  • 1 1/2 C Dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight

  • 1 Clove garlic, crushed

  • Salt to taste

  • 1/2 C Unsweetened coconut milk

  • 2 Scallions, chopped

  • 2 Sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 Whole Scotch Bonnet Chili ( Habanero peppers can be substituted )

  • Black pepper to taste

  • 2 C Long-grain brown rice

Boil the beans, garlic and salt until the beans are tender. Save three cups of the liquid, discarding the garlic. Return the beans and the three cups liquid to the pot (if there’s not enough of the cooking liquid use water), along with the coconut milk, scallions, thyme, chili, and black pepper and salt to taste. When it comes to a boil, add in the rice. Let it boil for 20 minutes, then remove it from the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes. Fluff rice and peas mixture with a fork. Garnish rice and peas with sliced scallions. My favorite dish on Nevis.

Rice and Peas Trivia

  • Rice and peas was adopted from the Akan tribe hailing from Ghana and Ivory Coast in West Africa. The dish, which still exists in those countries today, is known as Waakye and of course consists of the usual rice and beans. However, the Akans add sorghum leaves and baking soda, while West Indians flavor the pot with thyme and pepper.
  • One half of this popular dish is the staple, rice. Rice was popular in West African culture and the slaves brought the recipe with them to the West Indies and passed on the knowledge to their descendants. To help them adjust to their new, horrid environment, the slaves cooked food that was familiar to them, including rice and peas.
  • Have you ever wondered why Sunday is the most popular day for serving rice and peas? It’s certainly not coincidental. The practice dates back to the days of slavery. Back in the 1700’s, slaves were only allowed Sundays off from their backbreaking work. And on this day, the best foods were served – chief among them was rice and peas.

Rice and peas, a classic comfort food combo in Latino and Caribbean communities and some parts of the American South, is one of the healthiest dishes you can eat. It’s rich in plant protein—12 grams per cup—and it provides nutrients that most Americans don’t get enough of. Top among them is fiber. One cup of white rice and peas has 10 grams of fiber, mostly supplied by the beans. Compare that with a cup of chicken and rice, which has less than 1 gram.

“A diet that’s high in fiber helps regulate blood sugar and prevent certain types of cancer,” says Michelle Schelske-Santos, Ph.D., a professor in the nutrition and dietetics program at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras. The kind of fiber in beans also helps us develop good bacteria that contribute to gut health, she says.

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