Traditional Recipes

Chef Noel Cunningham Gungo Rice and Peas

“Rice and peas is a classic Sunday dish for us in Jamaica. If we don’t have rice and peas on a Sunday the day just doesn’t feel the same. Gungo rice and peas is a favourite compared to the others, it is also a popular Christmas dish. And let me not forget to mention that it tastes even better the next day when it’s reheated.” Chef Noel Cunningham, Cuisine by Noel


1 (19-oz) can gungo peas (pigeon peas)
or 1 1/2 cups dried pigeon peas, soaked overnight and drained

2 cups coconut milk

2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 stalks green onions, chopped

1 cup water

1 whole green scotch bonnet pepper (don’t burst)

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 cups long grain white rice

1 Tbsp. butter


Using dried beans:

Place gungo and garlic in a medium rice pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Add all ingredients except for rice and bring to a rolling boil.

Add the rice and stir the pot. Adjust seasoning to taste. Don’t burst the pepper! Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the water has completely evaporated and the rice is cooked. Serve hot and enjoy!

Using canned pigeon peas:

Add canned peas to pot along with other ingredients and bring to a boil before adding rice.

This recipe was first published by Cooking Sense Magazine.


About the author

Chef Noel Cunningham

Chef Noel Cunningham, socially known as Chef Cunny, is the dynamic force behind his catering company, Cuisine by Noel and columnist at cooking sense magazine. His philosophy and passion are reflected in his move towards creating healthier cuisine along with showcasing Jamaican cuisine with a modern twist.

He recently appeared twice on CTV Winnipeg’s Morning Live, Kiss102.3fm, and was featured in the November 2015 and March 2016 issue of Jamaican Eats magazine. In the last 12 months, he was also featured in the Jamaica Gleaner, Jamaica Observer and the Jamaican magazine. If that isn’t enough, he has under his belt many television appearances on Jamaica’s CVM TV: Television Jamaica’s morning program Smile Jamaica, Entertainment Report, Intense, Nyammings cooking show and Talk Jamaica Online Radio.