Bahamian Peas and Rice

A Bahamian staple, this is served along side many entree dishes there. Try this with Bahamian Style Grouper – a match made in heaven (the Bahamas)! Fresh leafy green vegetables are hard to get in the middle of the ocean, but this peas & rice or macaroni & cheese are very commonly served, and you may get a salad of hearty (iceberg or romaine) lettuce on the side also.

There are different styles of Pigeon Peas — some are green, others are yellow-ish, but the Bahamians primarily use a brown variety.

This is the very most basic recipe, and some Bahamians also add chopped onion at the very beginning of the sauté in oil, or bits of diced ham or bacon. If you have the caramel coloring on hand, some also add a tablespoon of tomato paste, to give the finished rice a dark reddish-brown color. Enjoy this easy side dish any way that suits you or based on what you have on hand!


  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (olive oil, coconut oil or other fat)
  • 2 C long grain white rice (I sometimes use Jasmine)
  • 4 C cooking liquid (use part of the reserved pigeon pea liquid)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cans Pigeon Peas (15.5 oz.), liquid reserved
  • Caramel coloring, if desired


Drain the liquid from the pigeon peas and set aside.

In a medium saucepan with tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, add the oil and rice and stir frequently for about 2 to 3 minutes to begin toasting the rice.

Add enough water to bring the total liquid from the reserved pigeon peas up to 4 cups. Add salt to the rice and then pour in all of the liquid. Cover, and bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Remove the lid, and add the pigeon peas. Stir well to combine, then cover and continue cooking over low heat for another 10 minutes until the rice is done.

Bahamians will often use a brown liquid concentrate along with the cooking liquid, which has no flavor but adds a little caramel color to the cooked rice. I have not found the brand here in the U.S., but you could use just a dash of Kitchen Bouquet to add the color if you wish. Many times, it is served without the coloring also.

Here, I used 2 different colors of peas — and no caramel coloring in the rice. I started the sauté with coconut oil, which adds a little background flavor.

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