This is as close to traditional Jamaican comfort food as it gets. This vegan Jamaican Stew Peas is gluten-free, wholesome and full of flavour from Caribbean herbs and spices. It wouldn’t be the same without those yummy little dumplings we call “spinners”, made gluten-free so this recipe is great for everyone!Jump to Recipe
As a child, my family and I would have Stew Peas at least once a week. It’s my favourite Jamaican dish and my top choice whenever someone asks me to make Jamaican food. I’ve shared this dish with hosts and fellow travellers from different parts of the world with great reviews. Side note: I always take along a dried blend of Jamaican spices whenever I travel….just in case :).
Although it’s not autumn, this comforting stew is good for any season. You can make it as mild or spicy as you’d like. It’s always warm in Jamaica yet we have this year round.
What makes this stew uniquely delicious is not only the blend of Caribbean herbs and spices, but the addition of creamy coconut milk to tie all the flavours together. A whole Scotch Bonnet pepper is usually added as the flavour is extracted from the skin. But be sure not to cut or bruise the pepper beforehand to prevent the dish from becoming too spicy. The whole pepper can then be removed at the end of cooking. This of course is optional.
When I was younger, we often grated freshly husked, dried coconut meat. This was then mixed with water to make fresh coconut milk. This was before blenders and convenience foods were a thing.
Tip when using dried coconut milk: Many brands add Sodium Caseinate, a type of protein derived from milk, to the ingredients, making these brands not vegan. Please check the ingredients list carefully if you have a vegan or dairy-free lifestyle. There are other brands available that are safer for vegans.
Another thing that makes this Vegan Jamaican Stew Peas as close to authenticity as possible, is the addition of little dumplings, called “spinners”, which are quite the treat to have.
At the time this dish was made, I only had a home-made gluten free flour blend available for the dumplings. But was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. The blend consisted of buckwheat flour, almond flour, rice flour, potato starch and tapioca flour. Buckwheat flour, though not made from actual wheat, gave the dumplings a slight nutty flavour and texture, similar to whole wheat dumplings. If you can’t find buckwheat flour in your local supermarket then try adding another tablespoon each of rice and almond flours. Adjust the liquid as needed.
Another option is to substitute all the flours in the recipe with 3/4 cup store-bought gluten free flour blend or plain all-purpose flour if you’re not gluten free. Again, adjusting the water as needed.
This dish is usually served with rice but I like to include some broccoli or avocado too.
Vegan Jamaican Stew Peas with Gluten Free Dumplings
- Pressure Cooker
- 2 lbs dried kidney beans, soaked overnight or about 2 cans
- 1 onion, large
- 1 carrot, large
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 stalk scallion
- 1 tsp thyme
- ½ tsp allspice, ground
- 1 tbsp all-purpose seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper, whole (do not cut or bruise) – optional
- ½ to 1 cup coconut milk
Gluten free Dumplings (Spinners)
- 1½ tbsps white rice flour
- 1½ tbsps buckwheat flour
- 1 tbsp potato starch
- ½ tbsp tapioca flour
- 1 tbsp almond flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsps water
- Place beans in a pressure cooker and cover with fresh water, about an inch above the beans. Cover and cook for about 20 to 25 mins. If using canned kidney beans, then simply combine with remaining ingredients in step 4.
- Meanwhile, chop the onion, garlic, carrot and scallion then place in a bowl.
- In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients to make the dumplings. Gradually add water, mixing after each pour, until a firm dough starts to form. (Adjust the water as needed based on the type of flour used).
- Divide the dough into about 8 to 10 smaller pieces. Roll each piece between the palms of your hands in the shape of 3-inch long ropes. Set dumplings aside on a plate.
- Once the beans are cooked, remove pressure cooker lid and add the chopped seasonings and remaining spices. Cook on low heat for about 10 mins then add the coconut milk and dumplings. (If the stew is too thick, add more water as needed). Cook for another 5 mins, then remove from heat.
- Serve with rice and steamed veggies or avocado.
- Potato flour is not the same as potato starch.
- However, tapioca flour may also be called tapioca starch.
- Almond flour can also be made by grinding or blending whole almonds.
- You can substitute 3/4 cup of ready-made gluten-free flour or plain all-purpose flour for all the flours in the dumpling recipe. Adjust water as needed.
- Fresh, canned or dried coconut milk works fine in this recipe.
- When using dried coconut milk, please check the ingredients list carefully as many brands add Sodium Caseinate, a type of protein derived from milk, making these brands not vegan. This might be of importance if you have a vegan or dairy-free lifestyle. There are other brands available that are safer for vegans.
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