Donovan's Rice and Peas Recipe

You can usually find Donovan working his magic in the Headway kitchen, whether it's lending a hand with lunches at our Day Service or sharing his expertise at our (much missed!) Headway Eats Supper Clubs. Lucky for us, today he's sharing his recipe for Rice and Peas...

“Me got this recipe from my grandmother. She was a good chef. I seen her do things and learned off of them. From 9 or 10 I was cooking food for everyone. Sometimes people would come to the yard and join us. Sharing food is part of the culture.”

Donovan Cooking

“I don’t measure anything, because I just know it.”…but here are the rough quantities to make enough for four:


  • 3 or 4 spring onions ('scallion')
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme (or a pinch of dried)
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
  • A few whole allspice berries (‘pimento’)
  • 2 cups of rice (basmati or other long grain rice)
  • 1 tin of red kidney beans (‘peas’)
  • An inch or 2 of cream of coconut (the stuff that comes in a block)
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli


1. Heat up the water (about three cups; Donovan advises to put less and add more if you need it)

2. Put in the scallion, thyme and garlic, and a little pimento

3. Then you put the coconut cream and let it boil out. Don’t put too much because you’ll spoil it

4. When it starts to boil, put in the peas

5. Make it stay a little time – maybe 5 minutes, so the coconut soaks into the peas

6. And then you can put in the rice, and a little bit of salt and that’s it

7. Put the scotch bonnet in whole and don’t let it burst, you want the flavour not the heat. Put it ‘pon the top of the rice.

8. Put clingfilm over it (or just a well-fitting pan lid) and let it take its own time. Let it cook in steam

Serve with jerk chicken, fried plantain, salad and enjoy!