Rice & peas

by Jenny Chandler

Jenny Chandler’s take on the Caribbean and American staple

Variations of this dish pop up around the southern United States as ‘hoppin’ john’, in Cuba as ‘moros y cristianos’, and all over the Caribbean as rice and peas. Traditionally the recipe used pigeon peas or cow peas (both actually beans with misleading names), but nowadays many people use red kidney beans.


1 onion, finely diced
150g smoked bacon lardons
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
A pinch of allspice
300g long grain rice
1 x 400g tin of coconut milk
400ml chicken stock, vegetable stock or the water from the bean pot if home cooked
1 tsp dried thyme
250g homecooked or 1 x 400g tin of pigeon peas, black eyed peas or red kidney beans
1 scotch bonnet chilli, left whole but spiked in a few places if you like a little heat


Take a large sauté pan and fry the onion and the lardons in the vegetable oil until beginning to caramelise.

Stir in the garlic, ginger, allspice, a pinch of salt and the rice. As soon as everything is fabulously fragrant, tip in the coconut milk and the stock or water.

Sprinkle in the thyme and the beans, give the pot one stir (otherwise the rice will become sticky) and then pop the scotch bonnet on the top. The chilli is there to infuse the rice with flavour, rather than heat, and is removed later.

Bring the rice up to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 15-20 mins until the rice has swollen and the liquid has disappeared.

Allow the rice to rest, covered, for a further 10 mins. Remove the chilli and then fluff up the rice with a fork before serving.

Recipe: Jenny Chandler