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Jamaican Rice and Peas by Elizabeth


Sunday lunch in Jamaica is an event. It is the meal where as many family members as possible gather together to celebrate family, savour amazing food, and enjoy their day of rest. In my family, my Mum and maternal grandmother would begin the preparations for this meal from Saturday and by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, the house would be redolent with tantalizing smells and filled with laughter as family, and friends told tall tales and caught up on the week's news.

Eventually, the call for lunch would come and we would make our way to a table groaning with platters of roast beef, pork or chicken, accompanied by side dishes of plantain, yams, baked sweet potatoes, mashed green bananas, cocoas, macaroni and cheese, green salad and others, depending on the season. No self-respecting Sunday lunch could take place without rice and peas to which we would add a spoonful of rich gravy. Authentic rice and peas is made with Gungo (pigeon) peas, but it can also be made with kidney beans. I remember shelling Gungo peas purchased from the local market on a Saturday so that Mum would have fresh peas to use.


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