Food critic Susan Fairbank once wrote : ” rice and beans are sacred, they are our daily bread, our comfort food. Rice and beans are our soul food and a synergies dish that makes a deliciously healthy block of complete protein when combined together. ” She has beautifully encapsulate in these few lines, the essentiality of rice and beans for human sustenance. Rice is staple for more than half of the world’s population and beans are scattered throughout the world in its many forms irrespective of culture and cuisine. They are considered as sacred by ancient Egyptian who deposited beans with their deads.
Like the Asian countries, rice and beans is a staple to many Latin American countries and the Caribbean, so Jamaica is no exception. However, they use the term peas to describe any form of beans, so theoretically this dish should be named as Jamaican rice and peas, but I have used the word beans for a wider acceptance and understanding.
Jamaica is a small island in the Caribbean sea lined with beautiful sandy beaches and some pre-historic caves, enjoys tropical climate throughout the year and their cuisine is widely influenced by the cuisines of Asian-Afrikan-L.American-Spanish, probably because of the wider influx of foreigners on their shores, who brought many ingredients and cooking techniques with them.
This recipe of rice and beans has been adopted from delicious magazine but I have suitably crafted it keeping in mind the essence of Jamaican cuisine. Kidney beans which are neutral are first sautéed in mango sauce flavoured with nutmeg powder and then combined with rice and slowly cooked in coconut milk or orange juice, bursting with fruity flavours and acquiring a mild and mellow taste. After all spice, nutmeg is one of the most favoured spice and mangoes and coconuts are plenty in Jamaica, if you want a little spicer version of this, you can add bonnet peppers or any Chilean peppers.
Rice (un cooked) : 1 cup
Red kidney beans (pre-boiled or canned) : 1 cup
Ripe Mango pulp (sweeten) : 1 cup
Ripe Mango cut into cubes : 1/2 cup
Orange juice : 1 cup / or Coconut milk : 1 cup
Nutmeg powder: 1 tsp
Grated ginger : 1 tsp
Stock / water : 1 cup
Thyme / mint : 1 teaspoon
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil : 1 tbsp
Wash the rice and soaked it in water for 30 minutes.
Heat some oil in a crock pot / stew pot and add the mango pulp. Saute for couple of minutes and then add the grated ginger. Let it fried for few seconds and add the nutmeg powder. Next add the red kidney beans and mix it well with the mango sauce. Cook for few minutes on low heat till the beans incorporates the flavour of mango.
Add the un cooked rice, seasoned it well with salt and pepper.
At this point you have two options, either twist the traditional recipe by adding orange juice, which will lend a fruity flavour to the dish or you can go with coconut milk which is more in sync with the traditions, end result will be slightly sticky with sweet flavour.
Since I don’t had the coconut milk in my pantry, so I added the pulpy orange juice (tetra packs) along with vegetable stock.
Cover with a heavy lid, cook on low heat for about 15-20 minutes or till done.
Garnish it with cubed mangoes and serve warm with Jamaican jerk chicken or anything of your choice.