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Gungo Peas And Rice Recipe With Coconut Milk

Gungo peas and rice with coconut milk recipe. This is the best way to cook gungo peas (pigeon peas) and rice. With coconut milk and your favourite Jamaican herbs and spices – pimento berries (allspice), thyme, scallion and scotch bonnet pepper.

Gungo peas and rice recipe

What is Gungo peas?

Gungo pea is the name for pigeon peas in Jamaica. There is no difference between pigeon peas and gungo peas, they are the same things. Gungo peas (pigeon peas) are small, round legumes that grow widely in tropical regions such as Jamaica. Even though Jamaicans mainly use dry gungo peas for their rice or soup recipes, it’s not uncommon for them to use the greener gungo. More often, these are Jamaicans like myself from the countryside who have a gungo peas tree in their backyard. You can eat green gungo peas raw, but they take less time to cook dry gungo peas.

Pigeon peas and rice

Jamaican Gungo peas and rice recipe

Jamaican gungo peas and rice are pigeon peas cooked with rice in coconut milk and seasoned with thyme, scallion, pimento (allspice), garlic and scotch bonnet pepper. You cook gungo peas and rice just as you would the famous Jamaican rice and peas, but instead of using red kidney beans, you use gungo peas.Red kidney beans are an excellent substitute for gungo peas (pigeon peas) if you cook them with rice or soup.

Jamaican Gungo peas recipe

If you know how to cook or have cooked rice and peas using kidney beans, you already know what we need for this recipe.

Gungo peas rice ingredient
  • Gungo peas: You typically use dry gungo peas when cooking Jamaican gungo peas and rice. For the recipe below, I also use dry gungo peas. The downside to dry gungo peas is that they take longer to cook, and you may have to soak them for hours before. You may use canned gungo peas, which is perfectly fine. Since canned gungo or pigeon peas are already cooked, you bypass the long time it takes to cook dry beans.
  • Coconut milk: I am using homemade coconut milk, but canned coconut milk is just as good for this recipe. The cooking time in the recipe card below assumes you are using canned coconut milk or that you have already made your coconut milk.
  • Rice: The type of rice you use will impact cooking time and the amount of liquid you use. I use basmati rice for this recipe. However, the rice that is best suited for this recipe is long grain rice, but I was able to get at the time. Basmati rice take less water and time to good so be mindful of that (see recipe card below).
  • Essential ingredients: You can’t have Jamaican seasoned rice without scotch bonnet pepper, pimento (allspice), thyme, scallion, garlic and onion.

How to cook gungo peas and rice with coconut milk

How to cook gungo peas and rice
  1. Prepare the gungo: Rinse the gungo peas and put them to soak overnight. Soaking the peas helps to reduce the time they take to soften. Pour away the water, and put the gungo to cook with the garlic, pimento berries (allspice) and salt, until soft in fresh water. The time it takes for the beans to cook may vary. Greener gungo peas that I get straight from the tree cook quicker than dry ones. The dry gungo peas that I get when I am in the UK take much longer to cook than the dry beans I get when I’m in Jamaica. If you are using tinned gungo peas, you bypass this step.
  2. Season to pot: Once the gungo peas are cooked, add salt, the coconut milk, scallion, onion, thyme and scotch bonnet pepper. Make sure to taste if the season is to your liken before adding the rice.
Jamaican rice and pigeon peas with coconut milk
  1. Rice: The type of rice you use will impact cooking time and the amount of liquid you use. I use basmati rice for this recipe. However, the rice that is best suited for this recipe is long grain rice, but I was able to get it at the time. Basmati rice takes less water and time to cook so be mindful of that (see recipe card below).
Pigeon peas and rice

Why do you have to soak gungo peas?

If you are using dry gungo peas, I recommend soaking them before cooking, even if you plan on using a pressure cooker. Dry gungo peas are harder to cook, and soaking helps to reduce cooking time. Wash the gungo peas to remove any dirty or non-food particles. Leave the gungo peas to soak for eight to twelve hours or overnight in the refrigerator in fresh, clean water.

There are alternatives to using dry gungo peas to reduce cooking time. You can use greener gungo peas, which are easier to cook or canned gungo peas, which are already cooked. You could use red kidney beans instead of gungo peas as they are much easier to cook.

How to serve gungo peas and rice

Gungo peas and rice is the next best thing to the Jamaican rice and peas recipe made with red kidney beans. Any main served with rice and peas will also go well with gungo peas. Curry chicken, brown stew chicken, oxtail stew, curry goat and brown stew fish are popular main dishes served with gungo peas and rice.

This curry chickpea recipe is a vegan main that goes well with gungo peas and rice.

How to store gungo peas and rice with coconut milk

Gungo peas and rice cooked in coconut milk should store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for six months in a tightly sealed container. Properly cool the rice before placing it in the sealed container and refrigerator.
Place the gungo peas and rice in the fridge when it is cool. Don’t leave it out overnight, as it may go bad because of the coconut milk.

Gungo peas or kidney beans
Gungo peas and rice recipe

Gungo Peas And Recipe With Coconut Milk

The best way to cook gungo peas (pigeon peas) and rice. With coconut milk and your favourite Jamaican herbs and spices – pimento berries (allspice), thyme, scallion and scotch bonnet pepper
5 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Jamaican
Keyword: gungo peas and rice
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 307kcal
Author: Lesa


  • 200 g (1.38 cups) dry gungo peas Use tinned gungo (see notes)
  • 500 g (2.7 cups) basmati rice see notes
  • 400 ml (1.69 cups) homemade coconut milk use less coconut milk if using canned (see notes)
  • 35 g (1.23 oz) chopped onion
  • 20 g (0.71 oz) chopped scallion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 5 pimento berries (allspice)
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • water
  • ginger (optional)


  • Wash the gungo peas and pour away the water. In fresh, clean water, leave to soak overnight.
  • Pour away the water. Add the gungo peas to a pot with fresh water, 1 tsp salt, garlic, pimento berries (allspice), and ginger. Cover and put to cook on medium to high heat. Cook until the peas are soft, which may take over a hour. (I would suggest using a pressure cooker to cook the peas for 30 to 45 minutes.) Check the pot every so often to make sure enough liquid to cook the beans. Add water as needed.
  • Add the coconut milk, 1/4 tsp salt, scallion, thyme, onion and scotch bonnet pepper to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil. At this point, taste to decide if you want more salt.
  • Wash the rice and add it to the pot. Stir to prevent the rice from clumping together. Add hot water so that the liquid in the pot is an inch and a half above the rice. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low, leave to steam until all the water evaporates.
  • Turn the off and let the rice sit for a few minutes. Remove the scotch bonnet pepper and serve.


  1. You only need one tin of gungo peas for this recipe. If you use dry beans, you won’t need to soak or pre-cook the gungo before adding the rice. It can take over an hour before gungo peas soften. Gungo peas aren’t as red kidney beans.
  2. I used basmati rice, and since basmati rice takes little water to cook, be mindful about the amount of water and coconut milk you use. Using long-grain rice, use about 300g instead of 500g.
  3. Here is why I suggest using less coconut milk when using coconut milk from a tin. Tinned coconut milk has too much of the creamy part of the coconut milk, which is also thicker than homemade coconut milk. If you use a whole tin to cook the rice (especially basmati rice), you will end up with undercooked soggy rice.


Nutrition Facts
Gungo Peas And Recipe With Coconut Milk
Serving Size
300 g
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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  1. 5 stars
    I always learn something when visiting this site! The gungo peas and rice are delicious – I enjoy cooking meals with new recipes.

  2. This looks great and a wonderful alternative to plain rice. I love that there is the addition of gungo peas to this dish because it gives the rice more sustenance. I can’t wait to try it!

  3. 5 stars
    Very interesting and delicious sounding recipe. This is my first time learning about Gungo Peas and it sounds yummy! Looking forward to trying the recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    I never heard of gungo peas or pigeon peas before, but this rice dish looks delicious! I’ve made other rice meals with coconut milk before and it comes out so flavorful.

  5. 5 stars
    This sounds like a really tasty dish. I love that you used coconut milk as that adds a great flavour. Also loving the kick from the scotch bonnet pepper.

  6. I love this. I am happy that I found your blog. I have been wanting to practice cooking Jamaican food for a long time. Now I can. I will for sure try this.

  7. I’ve honestly never heard of Gungo peas before! What a fascinating recipe. Jamaican food isn’t something I have much experience with over here in Ireland, but I must keep an eye out!

  8. 5 stars
    This recipe for gungo peas and rice is mouth-watering! The step-by-step instructions are easy to follow, and the colorful photos make me want to try it right away. I appreciate how the author provides tips for adjusting the recipe to personal taste. I can’t wait to give it a try!

  9. I might try this recipe with kidney beans as an alternative to gungo peas. I like that it will reduce cooking time. That’s a good recommendation!

  10. 5 stars
    Yummy recipe, never tried like this before and it seem easy to do as well. I would to try this recipe. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Aaaahhhh…I like this dish already. It reminds me of home and days in school. I love rice so much put together with beans or peas. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  12. I never thought of using anything but water to cook rice but coconut milk…brilliant. Can’t wait to try this recipe.

  13. 5 stars
    YummY I haven’t tried gungo peas before, but this recipe sounds delicious. I definitely need to give it a try.

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