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 red bean 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.
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.
How to find Vegan-friendly Dried Coconut Milk
Many brands of dried coconut milk add Sodium Caseinate, a type of protein derived from milk, to the ingredients. Therefore, these brands not vegan-friendly. 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 or persons with milk allergies. Most canned coconut milk are also vegan-friendly.
Using dried or canned kidney beans for Stew Peas
This recipe is traditionally made from scratch using dried red kidney beans. This yields the best flavour. If you’d like some tips on how I soak (and sometimes sprout) legumes to reduce bloating check out my Lentil Stew recipe post. However, if you’d prefer a much shorter meal prep, you can always use canned kidney beans. The recipe will then only take 20 minutes.
How to carefully use Scotch Bonnet Pepper
A whole Scotch Bonnet pepper is usually added as the flavour is extracted from the skin. But be careful not to cut or bruise the pepper beforehand to prevent the dish from becoming too spicy.
Scotch Bonnets are one of the hottest peppers in the world. To compare, on the Scoville Heat Scale, jalapeños generally measure 2500-8000 SHU, while Scotch Bonnets measure 80,000 to 400,000 SHU! Usually when we use Scotch Bonnet in Jamaican cooking, we add the pepper whole and uncut then remove it at the end of cooking. So the meal doesn’t come in contact with the seeds.
Gluten-free flour blend for vegan buckwheat dumplings
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 homemade 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 (See printable recipe below for complete measurements).
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 (92g) store-bought gluten free flour blend or plain all-purpose flour if you’re not gluten free. Again, adjusting the water as needed.
How to store Vegan Stew Peas
This stew can easily be stored in a container in the refrigerator for to 4 to 5 days. If frozen, it can last much longer however upon thawing, the coconut milk might develop a more curdled consistency. If you plan on making a large batch for later consumption, I would suggest using water in place of the coconut milk. The coconut milk can be added while reheating.
This dish is usually served with rice but I like to include some broccoli or avocado too.
More comforting stew recipes:
How to make Vegan Jamaican Stew Peas
Vegan Jamaican Stew Peas with Gluten Free Dumplings
- Pressure Cooker
- 1 cup dried kidney beans, 185g, soaked overnight (or two 15oz/425g cans)
- 1 onion, large
- 1 carrot, large
- 3 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
- 1 cup coconut milk, (240 ml)
- 1 tbsp oil, optional
- Drain soaked beans and place in a pressure cooker. Cover with fresh water, about an inch above the beans. Cover and cook for about 20 to 25 mins. See step 5 for canned beans.
- 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. (If using canned kidney beans, drain and rinse. Then heat 1 tbsp oil in a pot, sauté seasonings and spices then add the beans.) Add the coconut milk and dumplings and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. If the stew is too thick, add more water as needed.
- 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 (92g) 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.
- This stew can easily be stored in a container in the refrigerator for to 4 to 5 days. If frozen, it can last much longer however upon thawing, the coconut milk might develop a more curdled consistency. If you plan on making a large batch for later consumption, I suggest using water in place of the coconut milk. The coconut milk can be added while reheating.
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