Ital Jamaican Red Peas Stew (Vegetarian/Vegan)

We promised our vegetarian audience some more vegetarian meals. We are delivering.. and then some with this dish.  “Ital” is a Jamaican word for a holistic kind of cooking that involves whole foods and spices and no animal flesh. This is usually associated with the Rastafarian tradition from which Bob Marley evolved. We are paying homage to our roots by using this dish in a way that honours all people, no matter what their food philosophy. We promise you that it tastes so sweet that you will forget the meat!

Ingredients: 250g red peas (kidney beans), 1 cup fresh coconut milk,  2 cloves garlic, 1 small onion, thyme, scotch bonnet pepper, sea salt.

Measure peas in a bowl.  If you are using a digital scale, add the empty bowl first when the scale is off then turn on the scale and it will automatically calibrate at zero so that whatever you add to it will be the correct measurement and the weight of the container will not be included.

Soak peas overnight in 4 cups of water and 1/4 tsp baking soda and one clove garlic. We use the baking soda to reduce the problems of gas that some people have with peas. Keep in fridge until ready to cook.

When ready to cook, drain peas, add to pot with 1 1/2 L water, 1 tsp sea salt and another garlic clove and  bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to a very low simmer.

If you have soaked for 24 hours, this will reduce cooking time, but it may still take a while depending on the peas. Cook until soft.

If the heat was low enough, much of the water will evaporate when the peas are cooked until soft.  Remove them from the pot, leaving the liquid behind, along with about 1/4 cup peas .  Add 1 cup fresh coconut milk and increase heat to reduce the liquid.

Add your onions, thyme, and scotch bonnet pepper.

When reduced to a thicker sauce, add the cooked peas. Taste. Add more sea salt if necessary.

I find myself humming … this is a sweet stew because of the fresh coconut milk…”O island in the sun, willed to me by my father’s hand…”

Serve hot. This is traditionally served with white rice but you may substitute with Cauliflower Rice for a low carb alternative. Makes 4 servings.

Our friends at Duo Dishes made a Trini version recently. You may check out that one too to add to your Caribbean vegetarian meals!


  1. says

    Is this the dish you mentioned on our blog when we had the Caribbean-style Red Beans & Rice? It sounds so good. In fact, it was so good. The coconut milk really soothes any potential burn from the pepper, so those two work well together.

  2. Monifa says

    Cool. All yuh forcing mi hand back into the kitchen on a Sunday again with all these delights:-). Could this work just as well with gungo peas? (think its what it is also called garbanzo peas elsewhere)

  3. Andrew says

    I was going to try this dish, but I was put off by the need to count out 250 red peas. I don’t have that type of patience.


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