Best Rice for Rice and Peas: Keep it Fluffy and Authentic

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Whenever I want to switch our dinner routine up a bit, I prepare Jamaican rice and peas instead of plain rice from the rice cooker.

And sure enough, I’ve never failed my family with this dish!

Every rice and peas I’ve cooked comes out fluffy, flavorful, and savory. 

The unique combination of the creamy coconut flavor and perfectly textured rice just hits the spot every time!

Wanna know my secret to foolproofing my rice and peas ventures?

Using the right type of rice. A very easy step yet so crucial in the success of your rice and peas masterpiece.

In this post, I’ll share that secret with you!

Top Rice Variety: Parboiled Rice

Close up image of woman's hand full of parboiled rice.

Parboiled rice is one of the rice varieties that I discovered quite late in my home cooking career.

I thought it meant pre-boiled at first (don’t laugh).

But turns out– parboiled rice is just a rice variety that undergoes a special processing method. It’s partially boiled in its husk to retain more nutrients and achieve a firmer texture.

Cool, right? 

The effects of this special process make parboiled rice perfect for rice and peas! 

Reasons to Use Parboiled Rice for Rice and Peas

Beginner-friendly: Parboiled rice is easy to work with, which is extremely helpful for dishes like rice and peas, where you’ll be multitasking. It’s also moisture resistant, so it doesn’t matter if you under or overestimate the water ratio slightly. Plus, its firm texture can withstand long cooking times.

Absorbs Flavors Well: Parboiled rice’s unique processing makes it more permeable. This means it can better absorb the coconut cream and flavors of your seasonings or broth than other types of rice, resulting in a more flavorful dish.

Healthier Grain: Parboiled rice is generally healthier than regular white rice. It has higher fiber content, better retains nutrients, and has a lower glycemic index. A delicious side that’s also healthy is always a win for home cooks like us, isn’t it? 

Rice Runner-Ups for Rice and Peas

Rice and peas in a red bowl.

Not gonna lie– parboiled rice isn’t the easiest rice variety to find in the shops. Especially where I’m from. 

So, over the years, I’ve decided to experiment with other rice alternatives for this dish. 

Out of over a handful of rice varieties I’ve tried for rice and peas, these two stood to be the best substitute.

American Long-Grain White Rice

As the most common rice variety in supermarkets, long-grain white rice was the first rice substitution I tried for rice and peas. 

As expected, the dish turned out exceptionally well. 

After all, American long-grain white rice is also good at retaining flavors and maintaining its texture.

Just make sure not to overcook it, though. Unlike parboiled rice, it can turn mushy or gummy when cooked for longer periods. Shouldn’t be a problem if you don’t step away from the stove, though. 

Basmati Rice

Basmati rice in a bowl with wooden spoon.

I remember reading somewhere that Basmati is the superior rice for rice and peas.

Though a bit skeptical of the statement, I tried using it for the dish.

To my surprise, switching the parboiled rice to Basmati rice proved fitting. 

This rice variety created a lovely, flaky texture that makes rice and peas enjoyable to eat. 

I wouldn’t go as far as saying this rice is the best for rice and peas, though.

Unlike parboiled rice, rice and peas dishes made with Basmati sometimes turn out a bit too soft (if you’re not careful of your cooking time).

Moreover, Basmati rice has that distinct aroma that can be off-putting for some people (I personally don’t mind). 

Make Rice and Peas a Peas of Cake

There you have it– the best rice variety for rice and peas and two alternatives if you’re feeling adventurous. 

If it’s your first time making rice and peas, I recommend sticking to parboiled rice as much as possible. 

It’ll bring you a couple of steps closer to the dish’s success from the get-go.

Once you master the technique of cooking rice and peas, feel free to branch out to other rice options! 

Yield: 4

Stress-free & Delicious Rice and Peas

A cup of rice and peas in a white plate.

Level up your rice game with this rice and peas recipe! The perfect, stress-free dinner for the family. 

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of dried red kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 cup of parboiled rice (uncooked and rinsed)
  • 3 1/4 cups of low-sodium chicken stock (divided)
  • 2/3 cup of canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 of habanero pepper
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Two pinches of salt
  • Pinch of ground allspice

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the kidney beans and 2 cups of chicken stock. Cover and soak overnight.
  2. The next day, bring the beans and stock to a boil. Let the saucepan boil for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for another 1 hour or until the beans are tender.
  3. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups of chicken stock. Once it boils again, stir in the parboiled rice, canned coconut milk, thyme sprigs, habanero pepper (whole), salt, and allspice using a fork. Cover the pot.
  4. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes or until rice is tender. 
  5. Turn off the heat. Without opening the lid, let the pot rest for 5 minutes. 
  6. Remove thyme sprigs and the habanero pepper from the pot. 
  7. With a fork, fluff the rice before serving.

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