The Last Bite: Recipe Corner by Sasha Lee

Image via The Seasoned Skillet

Cuisine: Jamaican 

Categories: Vegan/ Side Dish 

Cook Time: Approx. 1½ hr

Servings: 8

5 Step Jamaican Rice and Peas 

This simple and delicious rice dish is a beloved island staple. Sundays and special occasions just aren’t complete without the coconut enriched goodness of Jamaican Rice and Peas (not to be confused with ‘red beans and rice’ or ‘peas and rice’.) The dish was a ubiquitous feature of island life growing up in Jamaica, served with all sorts of stews and curries or simply by itself as a vegan delight. While Jamaicans rarely rely on recipes, traditional preparation called for freshly squeezed coconut milk, which when combined with the bean’s distinct red tint gave the dish its trademark hue. 

Note: This recipe uses dried kidney beans which require soaking overnight to reduce cooking time. Be sure to drain the liquid and cook the peas in fresh water to reduce the symptoms of bloating or gas.


1 cup dried kidney beans—rinsed, soaked overnight and drained One cup fresh coconut milk

2 cups, long-grain white rice

4 cups, water

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 scallions/spring onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

5 sprigs thyme

1 Scotch bonnet pepper

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1 teaspoon ground allspice berries/ pimento 1 teaspoon all purpose seasoning

1 tablespoon butter/ margarine 

Sea Salt to taste 


1. Rinse the dried kidney beans and soak overnight.

2. The next day, drain and rinse the beans and place them into a large pot. Cover with four cups of water and cook on high heat for 1hr or until beans are tender.

3. Reduce the heat, adding the coconut milk, onion, scallion/ spring onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper, allspice/ pimento, all purpose seasoning, butter and salt. Taste and adjust to your liking.

4. Wash the rice until the liquid runs clear. Stir in the rice and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-40mins or until liquid is absorbed.

5. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs and scotch bonnet pepper. Fluff with a fork and serve hot with your choice of protein or as a stand-alone vegan dish. Enjoy!

Note: For vegans, kidney beans can also be substituted with dried pigeon peas (gungo), pinto beans and lentils, among other varieties. 

Sasha Lee is a Jamaican writer who has too many interests, and credits in both journalism and fiction. Her work has appeared in, Ellipsis Zine, Sublunary Review and LEON Literary Review, among others. Among her creative endeavors is a monthly column entitled “The Last Bite” – where she shares a slice of paradise in food and music reviews – for She can be found on Twitter @ohsashalee.

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