Jamaican Rice and Gungo Peas

Taste the Tropics and Give Back with Goya

Goya Gives Back

‘Tis the season! This fast-moving month between Thanksgiving and the end of the year can be a flurry of shopping, cooking, and family togetherness. To make life just a little easier, I’m thrilled to bring you a chance to give a gift, simply by buying something you probably already buy. During the months of November and December, when you buy Goya brand coconut milk and coconut cream, Goya will give food to a food bank somewhere in the US. So, while you enjoy this delicious Rice and Peas recipe, or anything else you make with coconut milk, you will be feeding someone less fortunate.

Stock Up on Coconut Milk

It might be a good time to stock up! I know I’m always running out of coconut milk. I keep a few cans in the pantry because it’s great for Thai, Jamaican, Indian and other cookery, baking, desserts, sauces, even smoothies.

Because I’m a Meatless Monday blogger, I was offered some Goya products to try out, and included in the package was a can of pigeon peas. In the US, you don’t hear much about pigeon peas, also known as “gullah peas,” so seeing that can prompted a very pleasant memory.

Jamaican Memories

Several years ago, we made a trip to Negril, Jamaica, at Christmastime. Of course, in Jamaica, it’s always about 70 degrees and sunny, and the Christmas decorations look fabulous on the palm trees. The white sand beaches are gorgeous, too.

Robin Asbell on the beach in Jamaica

Can I help but love the foods that remind me of this place?

I love to learn about the food whenever I travel, but in Negril, when I asked our driver, Jim, about cooking classes, he kept telling me that there were none. I kept pestering him, finally offering $100 for someone to come to our hotel, where we had a shared kitchen. The next day, he brought his girlfriend, Lovey, and together we made fresh coconut milk, callaloo, ackee, a rundown made with a fish that had been pulled from the water moments before, and of course, rice and peas.

Jamaican food

A Homestyle Cooking Class at the Hotel

They told me that gungo peas are a Christmas tradition. The produce stand in front of the hotel was selling the round, green peas freshly shelled, and with a list he jotted down, I bought everything for our feast for a few bucks. We spent a lovely afternoon making coconut milk in the blender, stewing greens and frying ackee, the egg-like fruit that is served for breakfast all over Jamaica. Then we sat down to a meal of real, homemade Jamaican food, with none of the faux Jamaican dishes that the resorts served.

It was one of the most memorable meals in a lifetime of memorable meals.

So, when my package of Goya foods arrived, I knew I would soon be cooking up a big pot of rice and peas, with coconut milk, pigeon peas, and for a little healthy twist, short grain brown rice.

Jamaican Rice and Peas

Merry Christmas with Jamaican Rice and Gungo Peas

The rice and peas we made in Negril was a little plainer than this, with no spices, just the coconut milk and rice and peas. For this one, I wanted a few more of the flavors that were in the rest of the meal, so I added fresh turmeric, a jalapeno, a tomato, some garlic and ginger. Using brown rice meant it cooked longer, so I stirred the peas in after it was cooked, so they wouldn’t get mushy.

You could build this into a full meal with my Jamaican Curried Greens.


Jamaican Rundown Greens

Jamaican Rundown Greens

I hope you’ll give my rice and peas a try, and buy some Goya coconut milk and coconut cream. I feel a little bit warmer inside after eating a meal that feeds others.

Especially when it reminds me of warm and sunny Jamaica.

Goya Gives Back

Here’s more info on the promotion:

*For every can of GOYA® Coconut Milk and GOYA® Cream of Coconut purchased from 11/1/17 – 12/31/17, Goya Foods, as part of their “Goya Gives” initiative, will donate an average of 4 oz. of Goya food products to Feeding America® to help provide balanced meals to food banks nationwide. Guaranteed minimum donation of 600,000 pounds from this offer combined with similar offers during the period 6/1/17-5/31/18. Learn more about Feeding America and how it supports local food banks at www.FeedingAmerica.org.

Jamaican Rice and Gullah Peas

Try a tropical twist on Christmas with this lush, coconut-laced rice and pea dish. If you can't find pigeon peas, use kidney beans.
Course Main Course
Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell


  • 4 scallions white and green parts separated
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh turmeric chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno chopped
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • 1 cup short grain brown rice
  • 1 15 ounce can Goya coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15 ounce can pigeon peas drained
  • cilantro for garnish


  • Chop the white parts of the scallions, chop the green parts and save for the end. In a 2 quart pot, warm the olive oil over medium high heat and add the white parts of the scallions, stir for a few seconds, then add the garlic. Stir. Add the ginger, turmeric, jalapeno and tomato and stir until the jalapeno is slightly softened, about a minute.
  • Add the rice and stir, then add the coconut milk, water and salt and stir, then raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 35 minutes.
  • Uncover, and if the rice is tender, stir in the peas and reserved scallion greens. Cover and let steam for about 5 minutes. Serve garnished with cilantro.