Recently, we visited Togolese friends for a day at their pool followed by (what Big Man called) a “family feast” of simple but delicious food: herbed chicken, black eyed peas, brown rice, salad and a typical West African sauce made of pureed ginger, onions and tomatoes. Instead of sauteeing the puree in palm oil, our host, Mimi, used coconut oil which gave the sauce a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Others at the table immediately commented on the taste which was a apparently familiar. Mimi confirmed that coconut oil is, in fact, a traditional cooking fat in West Africa. Our Interestingly enough, a few days before this visit, we had taken our weekly cruise through Trader Joe’s and sampled Asian dumplings that had also been sauteed in coconut oil with equally-delicious results.
Both of these culinary encounters encouraged me to try coconut oil for more than an ingredient to mix with melted shea butter to make it more smooth when I put it on my and Big Man’s skin and hair. I think that adding it to the mix is the secret to making a yummy, flavorful pot of rice and peas, a dish I’ve made for years but that never tasted quite like I wanted. Try this easy recipe, and if you’re feeling kind, tell me how it turned out :).
Rice of choice—
I used basmati for us. I love the smell and also that it’s said to have low glycemic index.
I used a can of dark red kidney beans. Some people use pigeon peas. Proportion is approximately half the quantity of rice.
Spices of choice—
I used powdered garlic and onion and chicken flavored bouillon.
Scotch bonnet/habanero pepper (optional)–
Watch out. This one is super hot. If you want some of the spice, DO NOT cut or puncture the pepper. Simply let the whole pepper cook with the other ingredients and carefully remove before serving.
Wash, rinse and drain rice and set aside. Sauté the chopped onion and bell pepper in the coconut oil on medium heat. Add rice and sauté. Add two parts water to one part rice. Add all remaining ingredients, stir well, cover and reduce heat. Cook on low heat for about twenty-five minutes or until rice is desired tenderness.
Rice and peas image from http://www.health.com