I’ve been lucky to be exposed to Caribbean food through friends back home in the US (specifically amazing dishes from the Dominican Republic), and it reminds me of home when I get the chance to recreate some of it, and use the same flavors and ingredients.
While a lot of Caribbean food has meat, there are some amazing side dishes that don’t, and you can easily turn a humble side dish into the main star. This time, I’m going to share one of my favorite comforting rice dishes – it’s really easy, and you can bump up the complexity with just 5 extra minutes of time, by starting the coconut milk off with a few bonus flavors.
You might have already guessed from the photos and the title, but this not-so-mystery dish is Jamaican coconut rice with black beans. You could also make it with kidney beans or pigeon peas (the traditional Jamaican way) but I had black beans in the cupboard, and I really like them, so in they went.
With a few cupboard staples, you can pull this together about 20 minutes. It’s rich and savory, comforting and exotic, versatile and unmistakable. You can serve it alongside spicy baked chicken, or make it into a vegetarian meal with some spiced up sauteed peppers and onions, and maybe a salad, on the side.
Thanks to Grace Foods for providing the rich, silky coconut milk and the super flavorful and heavenly-smelling hot curry powder in a great basket of treats to celebrate Caribbean Food Week. I also used Grace black beans, but they just happened to be in my cupboard, because they have a great texture and are a great price. The recipe, and the feelings about what I’ve made and used, are entirely my own.
Time: 5 minutes preparation, 20 minutes cooking
On the Counter
200 g (1 cup) dried white, long grain rice
1 400 mL (14 oz) can of Dunns River coconut milk
1 400 mL (14 oz) can of Dunns River black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large clove garlic, chopped finely
1/2 tbsp Dunns River Jamaican Hot Curry Powder
1 dried bay leaf
2 tsp coarsely ground salt (or kosher salt)
What to Do
Combine the coconut milk, garlic, hot curry powder and bay leaf in a medium sauce pan, and simmer it on very low heat for at least 5 minutes. It shouldn’t get anywhere near boiling.
Give the rice one quick rinse and drain, and then add it to the coconut milk. The rice should be 1/2 the volume of the coconut milk. Add in a little more water if you think it needs it. I use the can, so I can make sure to get all the coconut into the pot. Stir in the salt.
Cook the rice in the coconut milk, covered, on medium/low heat for between 10 and 12 minutes, testing it. You can stir it occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick. When the liquid is mostly absorbed and the rice is still very slightly chewy, stir in the rinsed and drained black beans. Heat it all up for about 5 more minutes, until some of the black bean-ness incorporates with the rice, and everything is hot.
And that’s it! Spoon it onto the plate or into a big bowl for family-style sharing.