Monday, March 3, 2008

Peas! I just pea my pants!

Ok so I have been busier than a dog at the meat market.
My record of postings has been less than stellar but after all it does take time to try out this recipes. Many are my own inventions and many are adaptations of traditional dishes from places I have lived in or visited.
This ones are a mix of both though they are all made from the same Pea.
I did promise to post about that elusive and mysterious Pigeon Pea.
First a little lecture, shall we!

A brown (if dried) to earthy green if fresh, legume (basically meaning it grows in a pot) that oddly enough grows on bush and not in a vine like other legumes. It belongs to the family of Fabaceae (sounds like Fava beans???) It is thought to originate in Asia, probably the Indian subcontinent and traveled to Africa perhaps some 3000 years ago. Seemingly brought to the the Caribbean during the slave trade, "Gandules" as they are often named have reverberate with flavors of the plantations, while they also share a secret parallel life in the Asian countries. Pigeon peas have had many medicinal uses as anti inflammatory remedies for aliments of internal organs, they are also used in the cultivation of Lac an insect product that is eventually turned in to Shellac varnish. Lac is mostly found as lacquer in fine instruments like violins, and mind you some of the varnishes of this instruments may make the difference between hundreds and millions of dollars...Ask Stradivarius the secrets of his varnishes are still to be deciphered by modern science. Also known as the gunga (Congo) pea and the pois d’Angole (Angola pea). This pea is packed with proteins and iron imparting it a very nutty, earthy flavor, the pigeon pea is consumed in all forms of stews and mainly is served with rice

Sold fresh, canned, or frozen, in the Latin foods aisle at the supermarket. They’re more readily available than you would think. You can also buy online at or

Arroz con Gandules (Puerto Rico)

1 lb. fresh green pigeon peas
2 qt. water
4 tsp. salt
1/2 oz. fat back or salt pork, diced
1 oz. ham, hock, diced
1 onion medium size, diced
1 sweet pepper
1 fresh green pepper
1 tomato med. size
2 fresh cilantro leaves
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 green olives
1/2 tsp. capers
1/4 c. tomato sauce
Saffron or Sazon Goya (One envelope) or Achiote in Oil (6 Tablespoons)
2 1/4 c. rice Medium Grain or Canilla.
3 c. of the water used to boil fresh green pigeons, if canned pigeons use then 3
3 cups of water
Cook fresh pigeons in the 2 qt. of water on high temperature bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes. Add salt and cook for 15 minutes more. Drain and save 3 cups of this water.
Meanwhile in another pot, fry the bacon. Remove and fry the ham. Add fat back or salt pork, ham hock, onion, sweet pepper, green pepper, tomato and cilantro leaves, Culantro (Recao), Scotch Bonnets Peppers and stir fry. Add vegetable oil, green olives, capers, tomato sauce and Sazon or Achiote Oil and mix. Wash rice, drain and add mixing well. Add pigeon peas and stir fry for a few minutes.

Add the 3 cups of water and cook in medium high heat until dry. Stir rice, cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes in low heat at half time stir and cover again until rice is cooked.

Pigeon Pea Stew (Trinidad)

1/2 Lb Pigeon Peas fresh or Frozen (2 Cans)
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 lb. fresh beef or chicken, cubed
1 bunch of Bouquet garni (Parsley, Cilantro, Oregano)
1/4 lb. pumpkin (Sweet Yellow Squash may do)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. tomato puree
1 tsp. sugar
2 onions, sliced
1 med. carrot, cut into rounds
1 clove garlic
1 Ripe Plantain, cut into rounds.
1 egg

Wash pigeon peas and put into boiling water or stock to cook until soft. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer gently until flavors are developed and beef is cooled. Serve immediately.

Bollitos (Cuba)

2 Green Bananas peeled and boiled
1 small green plantain boiled
1/2 Lb Fresh Pigeon Peas
Boil save water
8 cloves of garlic (to taste)
1 tablepoon of salt
1 table spoon of olive oil
1 spoon tip of baking powder

Grind all drained ingredients
Press in a colander lined with cheese cloth or paper towel
Make little dumplings out of the dough with the egg, garlic, baking powder and oil.
Make little balls
Oh yea I forgot and use some of the reserved water to boil the dumplings.
Or Deep fry them.

Serve them as an add on to your soups or stews.
Or as an appetizer if fried
with Tamarind Sauce.

Gadnules en Escabeche

A dish I came across in Puerto Rico, though not a typical dish,
this interpretation of two traditional dishes dating several hundreds of years.
Escabeche (of Spanish origin or from Persian sikbag; "acid food") It can be found with similar names in many areas, including North Africa (scabetche), Jamaica (escovitch), France, Belgium, Italy (escabecio or scavece).

I am very fond of this dishes of Escabeche loved them with Chicken Gizzards,
with Sword Fish and with Green Bananas (Guineitos). But finding this Pigeon Pea
Appetizer at a party of a fellow Puerto Rican made my taste buds sing.

2 pounds Frozen Pigeon Peas
1 large onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 medium head garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
6 bay leaves
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
salt to taste

Place peas in a large saucepan and pour in enough water to cover. Simmer over low heat until tender, approximately 30 minutes.
While peas are simmering, mix together the thinly chopped onion, bell pepper, garlic. Add vinegar, oil, bay leaves, olives, and peppercorns in a large bowl. When ready, drain peas and mix into bowl. Season with salt to taste and marinate at least an hour in refrigerator.
Serve cold over saltines


1 can Peas
Olive Oil

Pure all the ingredients in the quantities that you find most appealing to your taste buds
save the liquid from the can to thin the paste if needed.
I serve with a skin of Olive oil and chopped Basil and wedges of toasted bread.

Guandules con Coco (Dominican republic)

2 cans of peas
1 ham hock
1 chunk pork belly
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 lb greated unsweetened coconut
Bell Pepper
half an onion
1 Clove of spice
3 Cloves garlic
1 bay leave
dash of sugar

Fry the ham hock and belly on low heat to avoid burning and sweat some of the fat.
Fry the garlic, clove, bell pepper, onion and bay leave in the fat
add the peas with one can of liquid and save the liquid from one can.
Let stew for 10 min in low heat
add salt, and sugar to taste
add the coconut milk
simmer for 20 min to thicken
add Coconut flakes
let stew for another 10 min.

Serve over white rice.

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