The 12 Dishes of Christmas #6

Rice, Peas and Kwansaa

So in the previous post we outlined this year’s GBC Festival Feast, with our ‘12 dishes of Christmas . We’ve got three courses to cover, and 12 dishes in total. We’re now into the mains, having started with the classic turkey, we’re taking a look at a very different December holiday. . Our next option is a Caribbean staple; chicken with rice and peas.

The third main course is a representation of a celebration that might not be familiar to everyone; Kwanzaa.

A photo of chicken, rice and peas
Chicken, Rice and Peas. Served with vegetables

It occurs straight after Christmas, from December 26th to the 1st of January. Kwanzaa is a celebration of Western-African culture, created 46 years ago by an individual named Maulana Karenga in the USA. Originally only celebrated in North America it has become increasingly popular in other Western countries including the UK. Kwanzaa is about celebrating life and family unity and has its set of seven core principles surrounding; Unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

We’re representing Kwanzaa with a dish that is a staple part of Caribbean cuisine, and has travelled with Afro-Caribbean communities across the UK. Chicken with rice and peas, a dish traditionally served as a Sunday dinner, and food that has become part of Kwanzaa tradition in North America, where it is better established.


For the jerk chicken

vegetable oil, for deep frying
12 chicken legs
200g/7oz good-quality jerk seasoning

For the rice and peas

50ml/2fl oz vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
300g/10½oz long grain rice
400ml/14fl oz water
400ml/14fl oz coconut milk
400g/14oz tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh coriander leaves, to serve

Preparation method

1. For the jerk chicken, place the vegetable oil into a deep, heavy- bottomed saucepan and heat until a small cube of bread sizzles and turns golden when dropped into it.
2. Place the chicken legs into a large bowl and dredge in the jerk seasoning to coat all over. Carefully place into the hot oil and deep fry, turning occasionally, for about 12 minutes, or until golden-brown and completely cooked through. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
3. Meanwhile, for the rice and peas, heat the oil in a large lidded pan and fry the onion until softened but not coloured.
4. Add the rice and stir well, then add the water and bring to the boil.
5. Add the coconut milk, kidney beans and thyme, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
6. To serve, place a good spoonful of the rice into a cup, then turn out onto a serving plate. Repeat with each serving and place 2-3 chicken legs on top of each pile of rice. Sprinkle with fresh coriander.

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