Pimento Grain

the recipes of a nomadic Jamaican

Category: Holiday

How to Make Jamaican Rice and Peas in an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

pressure cooker rice and peas

Rice and Peas with a red Scotch Bonnet pepper from my garden

Yesterday I smoked some drumsticks for dinner and at the last minute I decided we needed something more than a salad to complete the meal; my Instant Pot was staring me in the face and since it was Sunday, a quick rice and peas was the first thing that came to mind. This classic dish of moist, tender rice and kidney beans infused with the flavor of coconut, herbs and spices is the foremost accompaniment in the repertoire of any Jamaican cook; it pairs well with almost any meat or vegetable-based entree and is usually served on Sundays with fried chicken or oxtails. In my earlier years, I made it from scratch by shelling fresh beans (or boiling dried ones) and grating then milking the oily flesh of a mature coconut, but now that I live in a part of the world where no supermarket coconut can be trusted, I have settled for the Chaokoh brand canned Coconut Milk and while I still boil a batch of dried beans every week, for this recipe I will be using the canned stuff, since the focus is on ease. I bought my Instant Pot on Amazon during their Black Friday sale, and I can honestly say that I have used it almost every day since it arrived.  This recipe should work in any electric pressure cooker.

1. In a large measuring cup, drain the liquid from

1 can red kidney beans

2. Add

1 cup full-fat coconut milk

enough water or stock to make 3 cups total liquid 

3. Pour liquid mixture into Instant Pot and add

the beans from the can

2 cups Jasmine rice, rinsed

2 sprigs thyme

1 fresh bay or pimento (allspice) leaf (or 1 small dried)

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 whole scallion (green onion)

3 pimento  berries

1 sliver of fresh, peeled ginger

1/4 tsp salt (omit if using salted stock)

1 whole Scotch Bonnet habanero (or any small chili pepper, or a pinch of pepper flakes)


4. Whisk all ingredients in the pot together then cook on low pressure for 12 minutes. This is the default ‘rice’ setting in the Instant Pot.

5. Allow the pressure to be released naturally (10 minutes). Remove the spices then fluff with a fork and serve.


Jamaican Christmas Fruit Cake (Black Cake)

I had absolutely no intention of baking this year but when I happened upon a special section in the supermarket bedecked with candied peels, I couldn’t help myself. The intention was to soak the fruits for a month and bake just before Christmas but the influx of appetizing cake photos from Jamaica made me decide to whip up a premature half batch. I hope you will enjoy the rummy delight of this smooth and decadent black cake. I used a Japanese plum wine in my recipe but you can use any combination of wines, fruit juices and spirits. Remember, if you haven’t been soaking your fruits, you can buy them when you are ready to bake and gently stew them in some rum and wine to produce an excellent flavor. Just remember the 5 cups of fruits the recipe calls for are measured after soaking and draining.

Rummy delight with a scoop of french vanilla ice-cream

Rummy delight with a scoop of french vanilla ice-cream

1. Cream until light and fluffy

1 lb butter (4 sticks)

1 lb sugar (I always use Demerara brown sugar)

2. Gradually beat in

12 eggs (one at a time, removing the ‘eye’)

3. Stir in

2 tbsp vanilla

1 tsp pimento (allspice) liqueur

4. In a separate bowl, combine

1 lb flour

2 tbsp mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, pimento/allspice, mace)

3 tsp baking powder (only 1 tsp if using self-rising flour)

a pinch of salt

4. Blend until well incorporated, (in batches if your blender is too small)

4 tbsp browning

3 cups sweet red wine

1 cup rum

1 cup orange juice

5 cups soaked mixed fruits, drained

5. Fold a little fruit mixture into egg mixture, then a little flour mixture, continue folding in alternately until everything is combined.

6. Scrape into three or four, depending on depth, greased and/or lined 8-inch baking tins

7. Bake at 350°F for 60 minutes, then tent with aluminum foil, then bake for another 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

8. Allow to cool and serve.

It is traditional to splash the cake with rum and/or wine but you will be forgiven if you don’t.



  • The first step before baking this cake is soaking the fruits in red wine, adding a little rum or sherry if you so desire.
  • Half the flour can be substituted with breadcrumbs.
  • Mixed spice is simply a mixture of the spices indicated in bracket. If you cannot source mixed spice, then you can create your own combination with as little or as much of each as you desire.
  • Pimento (Allspice) liqueur is also known as allspice dram. If you can’t find any, you may add a splash of Angostura bitters or any other spicy liqueur you believe will compliment the cake.
  • Madeira and Port are traditionally sweet wines. There are some dulcet, fruity wines designed just for baking these cakes that may be available at your local Jamaican store. You may also use the liquid reserved after draining the fruits.


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