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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Eating Chicken Feed: Pigeon Peas

Paid about $2 for these in Tortola.
They were great in curry!

We kept seeing canned pigeon peas in Caribbean supermarkets and I had no idea what they were, what they tasted like or what to do with them. 

Seeing them canned with coconut milk intriugued me further, figuring they’d be great in curry.  The checker in the Fat Hog Bay Tortola IGA said she used pigeon peas in curries and stews. Why not?

They were great in curry, very earthy tasting, almost nutty.

Then I got braver, and reconstituted the dry ones, then cooked them with sofrito – a tomato – bell pepper – onion sauce and rice.  Also good. 

Did a bit more research and came across this tasty-looking classis Puerto Rican dish:  Rice with Pigeon Peas - Arroz con Gandules (click here for recipe).  Once we finally escape St. Thomas, Puerto Rico is our next stop.  Sounds like a Puerto Rican Arroz con Gandules local food junket is in order!

I wondered, though, are pigeon peas healthy?  Yes!  High protein, excellent roughage and a good source of B vitamins (according to these guys … click here).  They’re also healthy for the environment; great at pumping nitrogen back into the soil.  Good livestock food, too.

Before coming the Caribbean, I’d never heard of pigeon peas, and I’m a bit of a foodie.  No, their relative obscurity was not part of my imagination.  “Although the pigeon pea is not well known in the United States, it remains one of the most popular bean crops in the world” notes “wisegeek.org.”

Beans? Peas? Whatever.  They’re good and deserve further exploration.  Give ‘em a try!