Caribbean Coconut and Pigeon Pea Rice

A variation of the traditional Dominican dish known as Moro de Gandules con Coco, this creamy, risotto-like coconut and pigeon pea entrée gets an added hit of flavour from sweet potatoes and a spicy topping of toasted coconut, Scotch bonnet chilies, green olives and cilantro.

  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 40 min
  • Makes: 8 servings
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All You Need

  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
  • ½ lb (250 g) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-in (2 cm) cubes (2 cups/500 mL)
  • ½ cup (125 mL) chopped red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) chopped onion
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) finely chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) finely chopped pimento-stuffed green olives, divided
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped Scotch bonnet or habanero chilies, divided
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) McCormick Gourmet Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) McCormick Gourmet Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) McCormick Gourmet Oregano Leaves
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Club House Sea Salt Grinder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) McCormick Gourmet Smoked Paprika
  • 1 cup (250 mL) medium grain white rice
  • 1 can (15 oz/425 mL) pigeon peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (400 mL) Thai Kitchen® Coconut Milk
  • 1 ½ cups (375 mL) water
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) tomato sauce
  • ½ cup (125 mL) toasted flaked coconut


  1. Heat oil in 4-qt (4 L) Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes, bell pepper, onion and 1 tbsp (15 mL) each of the cilantro and olives, and 1 tsp of the chilies; sauté 3 to 5 minutes or until bell pepper and onion are softened and sweet potatoes are lightly browned. Add rice, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, smoked paprika and sea salt; sauté 2 to 3 minutes or until rice begins to look translucent.

  2. Stir in pigeon peas, coconut milk, water and tomato sauce. Bring to boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Uncover and let stand another 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.

  3. Mix toasted coconut, the remaining cilantro, olives and chilies in small bowl. Serve rice with coconut mixture.

  4. Tip! Pigeon peas are considered a pulse, in the legume family, that range from green to brownish in color. However, when skinned and split, they are yellow in color and known as Toor dal or Toovar dal. Pigeon peas have a pleasant, slightly sweet, nutty taste. They are commonly found dried or canned in most groceries, Latin and Indian markets or online specialty stores.

  5. Tip! Scotch bonnet chilies are small, extremely hot chilies that range in colour from yellow to orange to red. They are usually sold fresh and can be found in some supermarkets, Latin stores or online specialty stores. If unavailable, substitute with habanero chilies.

  6. Tip! Chilies contain capsaicin which can burn your skin. After chopping chilies, wash hands and cutting board thoroughly with warm soapy water, or wear rubber gloves when handling the chilies. For less heat, remove seeds from the chilies before chopping.


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