Introduction to Gungo Peas

Gungo pea, known as Congo or pigeon pea (Cajanus indicus) is probably native to the East Indies. It came to Jamaica from West Africa by the Spanish.

It is available fresh from November to February and dried the rest of the year.

Rice and green gungo peas herald the Christmas and New Year season. Rice and gungo peas is one of many versions of rice and peas that exist in the Caribbean but none has become more center stage as part of the national cuisine as the Jamaican one. It is usually an important part of Sunday lunch and festival meals.

Rice & Gungo (Pigeon) Peas

This recipe can be substituted with red kidney beans as well. Prepare beans by following package instruction on container. You can also find canned, dry or frozen gungo peas in most grocery stores ethnic food stores or most supermarket.


  • 1 cup (8 ounces) green, dry gungo peas. Pick and wash peas to follow directions on
    package or can.
  • Cook pea in a large pot adding water until tender. Add 2 cans coconut milk (approximately 3 ¼ cups)
  • 6 cups (total) water & coconut milk combination
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 3 slices hot pepper scotch bonnet/habanero (no seeds)
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 2 ¼ cups (1lb) rice
  • Black pepper
  • Salt to taste

How to cook Rice & Pea

Add the coconut milk to the cooked pea. You should have the right amount of water to total 6 cups.

Add the thyme, hot pepper, garlic, scallion black pepper and salt. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the washed rice. The liquid should be about 1 inch above the rice so add water if necessary.

Cover the pot. Bring too the boil once again. Simmer until the water disappears and each grain of rice is separate.

Just before serving, stir the rice and pea to ensure even distribution of the peas.

Enough for 6

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