Trying a new dish can be as exciting as journeying into a new country, exploring the aromas and flavours of distant lands, right from the comfort of your kitchen. Even something as simple as rice can turn into an all-new experience. Today, we bring you a staple dish of the Jamaican household: spicy vegan rice cooked in coconut milk with leafy greens, peppers, and pumpkin.
To make this recipe accessible to everyone, we have simplified the ingredients required. For example, instead of using the leaves of eddoes, which may be hard to find, we have used cabbage. Both leaves have a similar consistency, and being leafy greens, also share many nutritional elements. Spinach is also an excellent alternative, but if you have access to the tropical leaves, then use those instead.
Similarly, we used butternut squash instead of the Calabaza squash commonly grown in the Tropics. The two squashes are very similar, but the former will be easier to find in a store for most people.
What makes this recipe exciting for us is not just the mix of veggies, tropical spices, and use of coconut, but also the cooking method. Similarly to the Italian al-dente rice cooking technique, you cook Jamaican rice together with all the other ingredients.
But instead of adding the stock a bit at a time, you let the rice simmer in all the juiciness of stir-fried veggies, spices, and coconut milk. The result is a bowl of colourful and sticky risotto that bursts with flavours.
So, are you ready for this culinary adventure? Put on your explorer apron and ready your spoons. Things are about to get spicy.
Which type of pumpkin should I use for Jamaican recipes?
The pumpkins grown in the Caribbeans, Philippines and South America are called calabazas. They come in different shapes, sizes and colours. The most common one is the calabaza moscada, also known as Crookneck pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata).
This type of calabaza is very similar in consistency and favour to the more common butternut squash. They are both soft, starchy, and sweet, with a mild nutty flavour. So to make our Jamaican rice recipe more accessible, we picked the butternut squash.
What do I serve with this pumpkin rice?
Our pumpkin rice is pretty satisfying, as it packs good amounts of carbs, fibres, and vitamins. But if you want to make a full meal out of it, you should pair it with some proteins.
To keep the meal vegan, you could have it with legumes or tofu. Otherwise, jerk chicken is an obvious choice! Or how about some grilled fish?
Another great option is to serve this spicy rice with your favourite curry. We've got a few tasty ones for you:
Which type of rice should I use in Caribbean recipes?
You should use long-grained rice for this Caribbean recipe.
Jasmine and basmati are both excellent choices, but for a better nutritional profile, choose a brown rice variety.
Is Jamaican rice very spicy?
Yes, it is considerably spicy. We used scotch bonnets chillies, fiery hot chillies used in many Caribbean recipes. If you love spicy food, then this recipe will be perfect for you.
If you like hot food in moderation, then you should only use half a bonnet chilli, or remove its seeds before using it.
For a milder rice recipe, take a look at our courgette risotto.
For an even hotter Jamaican recipe instead, check out our banana prawn curry.
What can I use instead of cabbage in this recipe?
Traditional Caribbean greens include the leaves of the taro, eddoes, amaranth, or yautia root. But as these are not easy to find elsewhere, you may use spinach or pak choi.
Is this pumpkin rice healthy?
This hearty one-pot recipe is a nutritious meal that provides plenty of vegetables and filling fibres, along with satisfying fats from coconut milk. Therefore, we definitely recommend this Jamaican rice recipe if you're looking for a healthy dish to add to your diet.
Pumpkin is a low-calorie vegetable that packs vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Imagine that just a cup of squash covers over 140% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin A . This nutrient is essential to support your immune system and eye health, and it's good for your skin too .
Cabbage and red peppers boost this rice recipe with colour and extra goodness. Like other leafy greens, cabbage is a precious source of vitamin K and folate, while peppers have plenty of vitamin C.
Swapping white rice with its wholegrain counterpart means you'll have fewer carbs and more fibres. Fibres keep you feel full for longer, so you'll be less likely to snack and consume extra calories during the day.
Each serving of this pumpkin rice is under 500 calories, provides two of your 5-a-day for fruit and vegs. It also covers 26% RDI for fibres, 19% RDI for carbs, and 17% RDI for proteins.
To turn to dish into a fully balanced meal, we recommend adding a serving of proteins. You can go for vegan options such as beans, peas, and tofu to keep the fat content in check. Just add them to seasoned rice while simmering, and you're good to go. But grilled meat and fish are also excellent options - for extra inspiration, check our FAQ above.
- Vegetable Oil
- Garlic Cloves
- Dried Thyme
- Scotch Bonnet Chillies
- Red Peppers
- Wholegrain Rice
- Coconut Milk
- Vegetable Stock
In a large skillet or casserole pan, heat the vegetable oil and add finely chopped onion and crushed garlic.
Sizzle for a minute or two over medium heat until the onion has softened and the garlic is fragrant.
Then, add allspice, dried thyme, and finely chopped chilli.
As scotch bonnet chilli is incredibly spicy, you can use half the amount or add it whole without slicing it. If that's still too hot for you, remove the seeds.
Once the spices are nicely fragrant and have released all their flavour, it's time to add the vegetables.
Peel the pumpkin and cut it into small chunks, then dice the red peppers, and slice the cabbage into strips.
Now, add the prepared ingredients to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes.
Next, rinse the brown rice until the water runs clear, and then add it to the pumpkin mix.
Pour in the canned coconut milk and vegetable stock, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring the broth to a boil, reduce to low-medium heat, and simmer the seasoned rice covered for 15 minutes, or until it's cooked through.
For the last few minutes of cooking, remove the lid and let excess water evaporate. The pumpkin rice should be creamy and fluffy.
Finally, serve it hot with extra thyme and cracked pepper, and enjoy it with beans, peas, tofu, or grilled fish.
Make sure the stock covers the vegetables completely otherwise the rice won't have enough liquid to cook in. So, if needed, add more vegetable broth or just water.