Pigeon peas is also commonly known as gungo peas, congo peas, gunga peas, cajanus cajan, or granules. It is used in many popular rice and stew dishes throughout the globe and is particularly common in Jamaica, India and other Caribbean countries. It is quite interesting to learn about the various ways different countries may typically prepare pigeon peas.
In Jamaica for instance, Pigeon Peas and Rice and Pigeon Peas Soup are among the most popular. In parts of Africa, namely Ethiopia, pigeon peas pods are not the only part that is used, but also the young shoots and leaves are also cooked and eaten. There is large canning of pigeon peas for consumption in some places, such as the Dominican Republic and Hawaii. In Dominican Republic, pigeon peas are also made as a stew, with plantain balls. We can’t leave out the Trinidadians and Grenadians who have their own variant, called pelau, which includes pigeon peas cooked with either beef or chicken, and occasionally pumpkin and pieces of cured pig's tail.
Jamaican Pigeon Peas Recipes
Jamaica has exciting pigeon peas recipes. Check out the Jamaican recipes below:
Jamaican Pigeon Peas And Rice Recipe
This recipe is a Sunday or Christmas favorite or basically any day you wish.
- 1 can (19oz) Gungo peas (also called pigeon peas), including liquid
- 19 oz Water
- 1/3 pkg Creamed coconut or 1 can of Coconut Milk
- 1 Small onion or 2 stalks scallion, chopped
- 2 Cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp Dried thyme
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 1/2 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 1/2 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).
7. Fluff with fork before serving.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
Jamaican Pigeon Soup
This is a Jamaican favorite during or after the Christmas holidays or on Saturdays
- 1lb shelled green pigeon/gungo peas
- 4 oz salt beef
- Leaf over ham bone
- 2qts water
- 1lb yellow yam
- ½ lb sweet potatoes
- 2 cups of coconut milk
- 4 heads of scallion
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 whole green Scotch bonnet pepper
- 1 teaspoon pimento grains
- Cut beef in your desired sizes and soak meat to remove excess salt.
- Place ham bone and salt beef together in water. Bring to the boil, add gungo peas and boil until almost cooked.
- Add coconut milk, then yam, potatoes, dumplings, thyme, scallion and green pepper.
- Simmer for a further 30 minutes or until peas and ground provisions are cooked.
- Simmer uncovered until soup is thicken (about 30 minutes).
Yield: Serves 6
Indian Pigeon Peas Recipes
The Indians are really great cooks. They seem to get flavor from their cooking that makes the tastebuds go crazy and they also cook with much variations. Please note that Indians mostly cook with split pigeon peas or yellow/crean color varieties.
Pigeon Peas With Mangoes
- 1 heaped cup skinned yellow pigeon peas (toovar or toor dal), preferably the un-oily variety, picked over for stones
- 1 medium ripe mango, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne plus 1 teaspoon ground toasted sesame seeds, or 2 tablespoons Maharashtran sesame-flavored garam masala (see below)
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 10 to 12 curry leaves
- 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or canola oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- Place the pigeon peas in a medium, heavy saucepan. Cover with 1 inch of water, and roll around the peas. The water will cloud. Drain through a strainer, and return to the pot. Repeat several times until the water is no longer very cloudy when you cover the peas. Drain and return to the pot, then add 3 cups water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim off and discard any foam. Stir the peas; reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring from time to time, for 10 minutes. The peas will be partly tender.
- Add the mango, the garam masala or the cayenne, salt, turmeric, curry leaves and 1 cup water. Bring back to a boil, and then reduce the heat again to medium-low. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the peas are tender and falling apart.
- While the peas are simmering, heat the ghee or oil in a small, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds. When they begin to sizzle, turn a reddish brown and smell nutty, remove from the heat. Add the cilantro, and stir until the sizzling stops.
- When the pigeon peas and mango are very tender, remove the curry leaves and mash the mixture with the back of your spoon. Scrape in the seasoned ghee or oil, and stir together. Cover and simmer five minutes until the flavors are nicely blended. Taste, adjust salt and serve.
Note: For the garam masala, in a small, heavy skillet over medium-high heat combine 2 tablespoons skinned raw peanuts; 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds; 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds; 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds; 4 to 5 dried red Thai chilies, cayenne chilies or arbol chilies; 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or nutmeg shavings; and 1 blade of mace. Stir until the peanuts are lightly colored in spots and the sesame seeds are a honey-brown color. Immediately transfer to a plate or bowl to cool completely. Add 2 tablespoons shredded dried unsweetened coconut to the pan, and stir just until almond brown, about 15 seconds. Transfer to the plate or bowl with the spices and nuts. Allow to cool completely. Blend in a spice mill, pulsing the mixture so that the sesame seeds and peanuts don’t heat and grind to butter. Transfer to a jar, and store in a cool, dry place.
Yield: serves 4
Advance preparation: You can keep this in the refrigerator for two or three days. It will stiffen up. Thin out with water if desired.
Shahi Dal Recipe
- 2 cup pigeon peas, soaked for 20 - minutes in cold water
- 1 1/2 quart water
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- 6 green cardamoms
- 6 cloves
- 1 salt
- 1/4 cup ghee
- 1 medium onion, sliced finely
- 1 1 1/2 piece ginger, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 fresh green chilies, chopped
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- Wash pigeon peas & boil them in the water with the turmeric, cinnamon, peppercorns, bay leaves, cardamom, cloves & salt for 20 minutes till the peas are cooked (may take longer if peas are old).
- Heat ghee in a skillet, cook onion, garlic, ginger & chilies till the onion is browned.
- Remove & stir into the cooked pigeon peas.
- Add tomato, cover & simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Serve with rice.
Indian Pigeon Pea Soup
- 1/4 cup soaked dried pigeon peas with 2 cups soaking water
- 3 Tbsp tamarind paste
- 4 cups warm filtered water
- 1 Tbsp minced ginger root
- 1 Tbsp diced green chili
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1 cup diced tomato
- 1/8 tsp asafetida powder
- 2 tsp mustard oil
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp chopped curry leaves
- 4 tsp dried cilantro
- Bring the beans, soaking water, ginger, chili, turmeric, and salt to a boil in a pan
- Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until tender, about 30 minutes
- Bring the tomato, tamarind, asafetida, and remaining water to a boil in a separate pan
- Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until tender, about 5 minutes
- Add the bean mixture and bring to a boil
- Heat the oil in a separate pan over medium-high heat
- Stir-fry the pepper, mustard, cumin, curry, and cilantro until golden brown, about 1 minute
- Add to the soup and serve
Note: ingredients are intended to be fresh and raw unless otherwise noted, but you can substitute with canned or dried (be sure to rehydrate) if necessary.
Trinidad Pigeon Peas Recipe
One of Trinidad's most popular pigeon pea dish is known as Pelau. It is a stew from Trinidad made with either beef or chicken.
Trinidad Pelau Recipe
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 pound beef for stew, cut in 1 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 cups fresh pigeon peas
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- Cook sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until it begins to caramelize. Stir in the beef, and cook until well browned. Bring the water, coconut milk, rice, pigeon peas, and carrot to a simmer; cover and cook until rice is done, about 25 minutes. Stir in parsley to garnish.
Yield: Serves 6
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