Pigeon Peas & Rice

Rate this recipe

Preparation info

  • Serves:


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad and Tobago

Sweet Hands

By Ramin Ganeshram

Published 2018

  • About

Often simply called “peas and rice” this dish can be a meal unto itself with the addition of salt pork or ham. Even omitting the meat, peas, and rice form a complete protein—a vegetarian’s delight. If you are using dried peas be sure to allot time for soaking them overnight.


  • cups dried pigeon peas or pinto beans or 1 (15-ounce) can
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ½ pound salt pork or cured ham, cut into ½-inch cubes (optional)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 small red (bell) pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • ½ Scotch bonnet pepper or other hot red chili pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt or to taste


  1. If using dried peas or beans, soak them overnight in cups of cold water. Drain and set aside. If using canned peas or beans, rinse well under cold running water and set aside.
  2. Wash the rice by placing it in a deep bowl and adding enough cold water to cover. Swirl the rice with your hand until the water is cloudy and then pour off the water, taking care not to pour out the rice. Repeat 3 to 4 times or until the water stays clear. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan. Add the salt pork or ham, if using, and fry for 1 minute. Add the onion and fry for 1 minute more, then add the green and red bell peppers and sauté until the onions are soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the peas or beans, parsley, and thyme and stir well to combine. Gently stir in the washed rice so as not to break the rice grains. Add enough water to rise above the surface of the rice mixture by ½ inch (about 2½ cups).
  5. Stir in the salt and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked but not sticky (all the water should be absorbed). Fluff with a fork and remove the thyme sprig. Spoon the rice onto a serving platter. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs if desired.

Part of