Jamaican Gungo Peas and Rice Recipe

Gungo peas and rice is a variation of traditional Rice and Peas. However, instead of kidney beans, gungo peas (also called pigeon peas) are used. This version uses creamed coconut which can be found at tropical grocers and some supermarkets. However, you can also make it with coconut milk. For the same recipe using coconut milk instead of coconut cream, go to Jamaican Rice and Peas Recipe and use gungo peas instead.

Foolproof Tip: All the liquid for this recipe – water and liquid from beans – should add up to 4 cups

1 can (19oz) Gungo peas (also called pigeon peas), including liquid
19-oz Water
⅓ pkg Creamed coconut
1 Small onion or 2 stalks scallion, chopped
2 Cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp Dried thyme
1½ to 2 tsp Salt, to taste
1 tsp Pepper
½ cup Water
2 cups Long grain rice (rinsed and drained)
1. Empty canned gungo peas and liquid into a large saucepan.
2. Fill empty can with water and pour in saucepan.
3. Add chopped onion, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper
4. Add creamed coconut and ½ cup water and bring to a boil.
5. Add rice and boil on High for 2 minutes.
6. Turn heat to Low, and cook covered until all water is absorbed (about 15 to 20 min). Fluff with fork before serving.
Serves: 6 to 8

JamaicanriceRice and peasside dish
Comments (21)
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  • recipes52

    Always love my Island cooking yeah man!!!!!!!!

  • sherry

    I’ve been to the caribbean, Peas & Rice is not made with Red Kidney Beans. thanks for an Authentic recipe, and the coconut cream is the perfect touch to bring in the smooth, slightly sweet, Jamaica flavor thats really authentic. Lovely Mon!

    • Habibah

      Hi Sherry,

      Depends sometimes they use gungo peas and sometimes use kidney beans.

      I prefer to use dried kidney beans, I love the pretty purple colour it gives the rice!

    • June

      when you are from the Islands, not just visiting, and you hear someone say rice and peas we do not try to distinguish beans or peas, we know the difference, but we want what we want when we want it. If I want rice and Peas and I want Red Kidney Bean (Peas) that is what you are going to cook. and no one question you. They are all in the same family…………..lol

    • Sandra John-Baptiste

      I’ve used kidney beans in rice and peas all of my life and I am from the Caribbean!

  • Claire

    I’ve always preferred rice’n’peas with gungo peas rather than kidney beans. I’m cooking ure recipe as I type…the rice is just bubbling away in a pot of flavour :p having the rice with some curry stew chicken, a recipe I got from caribbeanpot.com. Keep up the good work ure recipes are super tasty and authentic.

    • Claire

      …just one small suggestion for anyone trying this recipe…I would suggest 1 tsp of salt (or even less) would be sufficient as I have just finished preparing this and my rice is wayyy too salty.

      • Cook Like A Jamaican

        For this recipe I use the liquid packed with the canned peas. Some brands add salt to the liquid others don’t, so just adjust the salt based on your preference. Blessings, Fay

  • damrs.

    I tried thid for my jamaican husband and he said it taste just like home 🙂

  • Shayla

    Great recipe I will try as the holiday is near . I adore watching your videos you are truly blessed n highly favored.

    Thank You for sharing this with us : – )

  • Nikkie

    This isn’t really authentic Jamaican rice and peas. This is the lazy version I would cook mid week but at weekends I make the real mckoy with dried gungo peas cooked in my pressure cooker with garlic, scallion and fresh not dried thyme and I was born in England! My mum is 60 and has never used tinned peas in her life. My nan would be rolling in her grave!!

    • Nicole

      Well, I’m sure this recipe is modified for the non-islanders, like myself (using canned peas and dried thyme). I’m just beginning to dabble in making Jamaican food, and I must say that this site is truly helpful. My food tastes as good as the food from my local Jamaican restaurant. Thank you!

  • Racquel

    Love uour website, I am on a mission to try as many recipes as possible.
    Have already done the banana fritters and loved em. I was wondering
    how the recipe for the rice and gungo peas could be adjusted for coconut
    milk instead of cream.

  • IM

    In the Spanish-speaking areas and some English-speaking areas south of Jamaica red beans are used. Where did you go on your Caribbean visit?

  • Preston

    I will first thank you for having shared your family food traditional secrets. I will try both the (Gunga and the kidney beans) Rice And Pea Recipe. I think I like the gunga more than the kidney beans, because kidney beans are a more Soul Food tradition, perhaps, because I am so familiar with them. Besides, I will look forward to meet this challenge, since the idea has been entertained in the last couple of days. Again, Gratia (thanks).

  • Joyce

    My Jamaican girlfriend introduced me to peas and rice, and I have been loving them for years. Being from a family with southern roots I grew on red beans and rice, so was already in love with the peas and rice family. Love eating Caribbean food, and cook it quite often. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  • shana

    you know, i’m glad to find a recipe with the canned pigeon peas, because i’ve been wondering how to use it for months. is it cooked already a bit, or is it raw? would you cook other pigeon peas recipes using the canned peas in the same way you would with the fresh shelled peas? thanks!

    • Fay & Angela

      Hi Shana,
      Yes, you would use them the same way. However if you use dried pigeon peas you’d have to rehydrate them first by soaking them in water for a few hours or overnight before using them to make this dish. Blessings, Fay

  • James

    When I was a kid red peas were used in the week and gungo peas at the weekend, both are ream as far as i’m concerned and make plain old rice something to be savoured!I’m from East London by the way, Hackney to be exact and my memories are from back in the 70’s. Thanks Fay and Angela for sharing your culinary life with us all. Yum Yum!

  • Jan

    I was born and raised in Jamaica and I can positively tell you that red kidney beans is often used to cook rice and peas. You must not have been in Jamaica.

  • NaChea

    Hello what would be the ” difference ” in using Coconut Milk vs. Cream ?