Today is International Women’s Day – observed annually to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

Meanwhile, a report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has revealed that

the pay gap between men and women worldwide may be much higher than official government figures. The report, “Gender (in)Equality in the Labour Market”, is based on survey results of some 300,000 women and men in 20 countries. It puts the global pay gap at up to 22%, rather than the 16.5% figure taken from official government figures and released by the ITUC on March 8 last year.

The report also confirms previous findings that union membership, and particularly the inclusion of women in collective bargaining agreements, leads to much better incomes for both women and men, as well as better pay for women relative to their male co-workers.

To the woman in America, that’s an average loss of 4,34,000 U.S. dollars in lifetime earnings.

You won’t hear much about this in the mainstream media. They’ve got more important things to consider. Like a quarter of Beyonce’s right nipple.

Since women earn 3/4 of what men do for the same job, I guess they should pack up on Wednesday afternoon and sail out of their offices. If they’re getting only three-quarters of the remuneration, they might as well work only three-quarters of the time.

These women come home in the evenings and submit to the enduring drudgery of housework. The men may be kind enough to ‘help’ if they feel like it. I’ve travelled for many years on the local trains in Mumbai. A lot of women in the ladies’ compartment would use the hour on the evening commute home to shell peas, chop vegetables they had just purchased (yes, they carried knives), string beans and peel shallots. In the general (men’s) compartment, most would be snoozing, listening to music, reading the paper or playing cards.

And I’ve wondered. If these women go home and don’t cook dinner, or do laundry or the dishes, just what are those guys in the compartment next door going to do? Dump them? Won’t that be nice, really, to get some deadweight out of your life?

Oh, here’s what a bunch of celibate men have to tell women: the washing machine is more liberating than the Pill. I say, don’t have kids. It’s more liberating to do just one’s own laundry than that of six people. These are the same guys, by the way, who ex-communicated the doctors of a 9-year old child who got an abortion after being raped.

This post is dedicated to all the women who refuse to be suckered into suckerdom. Like my mom. She would cook once, maybe twice a week if she felt like it, and I was used to eating the same thing three days in a row. And she had only two items on the menu: Eat it or Leave it. When she was too exhausted to even reheat yesterday’s leftovers, she would fish out two giant Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars and we would giggle and make it our dinner. The rest was take-out. My dad cooked, but he was traveling or away most of the time and rabidly carnivorous unlike my vegetarian mom.

If I complained that my friends brought fancy lunches to school while I got sandwiches most of the time, she would repeat, as often as necessary: “There are some kids who don’t bring lunches at all. Besides, do I have ‘maid’ or ‘chef’ stamped over my forehead?”

Thank you, mom, for not aspiring to sainthood. And for teaching me that it’s not worth anything, really.

This is one of those fuss-free one-pot meals that she would’ve made. Replace the azuki beans with red cowpeas and the thyme with curry leaves, and it would be quite similar to food cooked in her native Kerala on India’s south-western coast.

This dish is true comfort food and a Sunday staple in many Jamaican homes. I adapted it from this recipe. Check it out for step-by-step instructions and a video.

No frying onions, roasting spices, or any of that jazz. Five minutes of prep for three meals for two people. It’s so delicious that we’ve made it twice this past week, once with red rice and jalapenos, the second time with basmati and habaneros. Just toss everything in a pot. Fix a salad while it’s cooking and you’re good to go.

Habanero peppers, spring onions, soaked azuki beans and dried thyme

Any chillies will do, though this is traditionally made with scotch bonnet peppers. I don’t think anyone sells scotch bonnets in our town state, so I settled for their cousins, the habaneros. Habaneros come from Cuba, Latin and North America, while scotch bonnets come from the Caribbean and Maldives. Both are intensely hot, with a slight citrussy flavour and floral aroma. They were considered the hottest peppers in the world until the Tepin/Pequin peppers growing wild in the south-west U.S. and Mexico and Bhut/Naga Jolokia from north-eastern India were deemed hotter.

A word about ‘peas’. Here, it stands for dried beans. Traditionally, Jamaicans use gungo peas (whole pigeon peas/toor/arhar), or any variety of cowpeas (like red cowpeas/chori or black-eyed peas). Some recipes also use varieties of red beans or kidney beans. I used azuki/adzuki beans.

You can use canned, but this recipe calls for using the liquid the beans were cooked in, and I don’t like the slimy stuff in the can. Use soaked dried beans if you can. It yields a much better flavour and texture.

If using canned beans, rinse them well and replace the bean liquid in the recipe with water. Add them when you add the rice. You would need approximately a cup and a quarter of cooked beans.

JAMAICAN RICE AND PEAS

Serves two people for three or four meals.

1/2 cup dried beans or 1.25 cups cooked
**dried cowpeas/pigeon peas/red kidney beans/red beans/azuki beans
1 cup rice (we used brown basmati)
2 peeled and smashed garlic cloves
2 chopped spring onions/scallions
**separate the whites and greens
1/2 tsp dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh
3/4 cup coconut milk
** low fat is fine. or use 1/4 cup coconut milk powder mixed with water.
salt to taste
1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper
**any hot pepper will work
2 tsps oil or butter

1. Soak beans in plenty of water for six hours or overnight, drain, add 1.5 cups water and cook with a bit of salt and the garlic cloves until done, but firm. If you overcook them and they turn mushy, wait until the rice is 3/4 cooked to add them.

2. Measure out the rice. Wash and set aside. Rinse the measuring cup.

3. Drain the bean liquid into the same measuring cup you used for the rice. Add to it the coconut milk and enough water to get 2 cups and 2 tablespoons total.

This measurement is for basmati or long-grained rice. If using short-grained rice or other varieties, increase the amount of liquid (to maybe 2.5 cups plus 2 tablespoons) and cooking time accordingly.

4. In the same pan you cooked the beans, add the chopped spring onion whites, thyme, salt to taste and the habanero/scotch bonnet pepper (slit, but still attached to the stem) along with the rice, the cooked beans, the bean-coconut liquid and oil/butter.

5. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook on the lowest setting for 12-14 minutes until done. Let it sit covered and undisturbed for another five to ten minutes. Add crushed black pepper if you want to.

6. Discard the habanero and garlic, garnish with spring onion greens and serve.

Thyme from last year’s garden

To dry thyme, just cut the stalks and keep them in a dark dry place standing upright (as you would keep flowers in a vase) for four or five days until the leaves are dry. Then pull them off and store in a jar. This method also works for rosemary, lavender and oregano.

Jamaican Rice and Peas is our entry for Monthly Mingle: Caribbean Cooking hosted by the lovely Meeta @ What’s for Lunch, Honey?

- bee

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42 Comments

  1. Siri says:

    Happy Women’s Day Bee. the Jamaican rice looks colorful :)

    Siri

  2. Priscilla says:

    I am with you on this Bee, I’ve been mulling on this topic lately. Absolutely dislike spending time in the kitchen after a long day at work.

  3. Asha says:

    I made that rice and peas too, so yummy. I didn’t add Habenero though, too hot and scary pepper that one!;D

    My Basil died but everything else is intact in the herb pot, waiting for 70+F to get them on the deck.It’s 81F today, going down to 40s again next week.

    Happy Women’s day to you too. Arvind is at meeting, me just having wine and watching movies.

  4. Bharti says:

    That looks great..would love to try it out. I made those besan peanut munchies btw, they were super addictive.
    Women’s day I don’t know..still a loooong way to go.
    When I was younger I aspired to be a saint. Luckily, you get wiser as you get older :-)
    Here’s to women being able to do whatever they choose to do.

  5. Cham says:

    Happy women’s day Bee. Another great post, love the way u spiced up with habanero.

  6. Maninas says:

    Happy Women’s Day, Bee.

    I feel very strongly about this topic. Sadly, a lot of Croatia is still very traditional, with clear cut roles. But the saddest part is, many women will not do anything about it, and think that is the way it should be. And they will raise their sons and daughters to think and behave in that way, too. Luckily, some don’t suceed. Like my own mother.

  7. Madhuram says:

    I haven’t tried brown basmati rice yet. It’s definitely a very simple one pot meal.

  8. A&N says:

    Totally. Who wants to slog ‘alone’ in the kitchen everyday when 2 people are eating the stuff.

    I love the fact that this is a one pot meal!

  9. Smitha says:

    Nice. The dish sounds healthy and yum. Great pics.

  10. Manasi says:

    Happy Womens day to U Bee !
    Another must try recipe!! :)

  11. Nirmala says:

    Informative data and nicely written post Bee! My mom being a home maker did al the chores not just for she’s a home maker but the love and rsponsibility she had in raising us. As my dad stayed out of station all most 90% of the time she had everything in her head and shoulders. The same continues with me here :) But I love this responsibility as I and my mom have the freedom of raising up our kids in our own way. no intrudings. I rspect my father in someway as after his retirement he took lots of household work and saring as much as possible from my mom. Salutes to all women live with self respect! Happy womesn day bee!

  12. sushma says:

    Hi,

    Bee great and very well written post. nice rice item too..:)

    Happy Women’s Day!

  13. Meeta says:

    Here’s to all the women! I love lovely, simple and 100% full of flavor dishes like this! Perfect and I am glad you could make it to the mingle!

  14. Arundathi says:

    Bee – I do hope the comment form is working now on my blog. This looks beautiful – it reminds me of Cynthia’s Cook-Up Rice – absolutely delicious!

  15. Happy Cook says:

    Delicious rice, i made bean rice, didn’t add coconut milk, next time i am going to add it.

  16. Soma says:

    Lovely, simple & full of flavors.
    what u have written is so true. My mom would work, & learned to eat just what was cooked at home & not whine at all. I have seen my dad help tho’, not in cooking, but laundry, groceries & mopping the house etc.. But I have seen otherwise tho in most of the Indian families who would not even pick the plate from the table & take it to the sink.

    it sucks.. & even the kids are taught the same “rule”.. I will stop now for i could write a few pages…

  17. sunita says:

    I am quite used to the man in the house helping out with chores, courtesy my dad.

    I love rice and beans combinations and yours looks lovely :-)

  18. Rachna says:

    love the bean rice one pot meal, i guess the the chilli and garlic add the all the lovely flavour… will def try it…

  19. sra says:

    Nice post, Bee, enjoyed reading about your mom and you.

  20. Cynthia says:

    And she had only two items on the menu: Eat it or Leave it. – yep, that’s my mother too. As always, a pleasurable read and your presentation of a Jamaican staple makes me wanna go make some.

  21. Dhana says:

    Happy Women’s Day Bee! Having experienced the lesser pay with my husband and me working in the same company having the exact same job title, but earning very different salaries, I can totally relate to that statistic ;) .

    But, I agree its up to us to change the world :D I eventually quit and started my own company, and now pay all my employees the same salary..oh wait, should I be paying the dudes less to balance it out ;) .

    D

  22. Mamatha says:

    Great post Bee! And here’s to all the women. I see this post just when I’m thinking of a rice + bean/lentil combo for dinner.

    I tried you Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownie yesterday. It tasted more like decadent flourless chocolate cake than brownie, the recipe is a keeper. Thanks much.

  23. Madhumathi says:

    Enjoyed reading your write-up..My mom sounds like yours!
    The rice looks delicious and as usual the presentation is awesome! Happy womens day to you,Bee :)

  24. Rashmi says:

    Happy women’s day,Bee

  25. Ujwal says:

    I am used to the man working at home. In childhood it was my dad and after marriage my father in law and hubby dear :)
    Rice looks yummy.. bookmarked to try

  26. joey says:

    Belated happy Woman’s Day greetings! Great post! I hear ya!

    Those beans look really delicious and just my type!

  27. Alka says:

    Hmm well anything i put up here,is surely gonna piss u off,so better i but it in the most gentle way i can
    As husband and wife we have divided our responsibilities and rights.So now that he has the whole financial burden,i look after the home and kid.I am free to run my home and raise our kid,the way i like,no expectations,no interference
    Many ppl SUGGEST me that why i am wasting my DEGREE(academic) by being a home maker and i just have one reply to them….
    I know i am gonna regret one day about havent done anything great JOB wise,but its better than regretting,not having spend enough time with my kid.considering that working woman have to look on home front too,its hard to concentrate on kids ,watching them grow day by day,step by step.
    So it all depend upon how u feel for the things,if someone enjoys perks and achievements at job,so be it,and if someone enjoys growing up with kids,let it be.No hard and fast rules for feeling happy ,its matter of choice
    Coming to rice,yeah i simply loved that gorgeous one pot meal

    dear alka, if that’s what you want to do, more power to you. this post is about women who are expected to do things they don’t want to do.

  28. Aparna says:

    Caribbean seems to be the flavour of the month on quite a few food blogs and how.

  29. sia says:

    belated but happy women’s day :)
    and cheers to once a week cooking or no cooking at all. i am taking break from kitchen till i feel like cooking. too much of work @office and have no mood to cook anything when i get bk home. so it’s K’s rasam’s and dals and lot of canned soups since last week.
    thanks for the tip abt drying the herbs. i used end up throwing them most of the times and now have stopped buying any fresh herbs, except coriander of course!

  30. sandeepa says:

    I don’t think it is about cooking once, twice, never it is about the choices/independence you have as a woman.
    If you want to cook elaborate 6 course meals after a grueling work day you are welcome, if not you are equally welcome.
    If those ladies found pleasure shelling peas during their train journey no harm dome. Some people do get a kick out of the sainthood and they should not be denied such pleasures :) .

    Many men do too, like D(the hubby) who gets infinite pleasure in re-arranging the already loaded dishwasher every night. If he complains, I don’t agree, it is his call.

    If you are forced into it, then it becomes a issue

    But yes may there be more power to women who are denied such liberty, independence at any level of their life. And may there be more women like your Mom, who realize that “sainthood” isn’t all that great after all.

    can i rent your hubby to re-arrange my dishwasher? i am very inefficient at loading dishwashers.

  31. maryann says:

    Hi Bee. I grew up seeing women in both modes. My mom and grandmother were very traditional, but my Aunt ran her own business and didn’t have children. I was the first woman in my family to go to college!
    I have a foot in both worlds and I enjoy both. I enjoy cooking for everyone. I like to see the smiles of contentment on faces around the table. I believe women rule the hearth and table, where much of the family politics happen. But I am not forced into this role like others. I also raised my sons to do all for themselves and am shocked when I meet a man who can’t eat until something is placed in front of him by a woman. Sad!
    Thought provoking post and that’s a lovely dish you served up for us!
    xox

  32. sandeepa says:

    With this economy you can rent him for whatever you want ;-)

  33. Manisha says:

    Hi Bee! My husband, also D, rearranges the dishwasher, too. He can fit all available pots, pans, dishes, bowls, water bottles, cutlery, wine glasses – everything in your kitchen that is dishwasher-safe into the dishwasher at the same time. Eat for seven days, wash once. He will reduce your water usage, gas bill (for hot water) and electricity bill (for dishwasher to heat water and to do its job). Very green. In the interim, some of your dishes might begin to look greenish too, but anything green is good. That is why dollars are green. And the best thing is that, my D is not just an abbreviation, he really is D to many people. What to do? Even Indians can’t pronounce his name correctly. So please hire my D. Best, he is. Not just for rearranging the dishwasher but also for loading it – do it once, do it right – thereby reducing total calories and frustration expended. You can use those saved calories for other more desireable pursuits like playing tennis or planting your garden. :-D

    playing tennis? gah. jai plants the garden. can D go to the gym in my place? that would be nice.

  34. sandeepa says:

    Don’t listen to Manisha, mine is D Best, please send your quotes ASAP

    ginger cookies? that’s all i can afford right now.

  35. yasmeen says:

    Simple Spicy and flavorful Rice ,great meal for one of those busy work days :)

  36. maninas says:

    ‘Some people do get a kick out of the sainthood and they should not be denied such pleasures :) ’ LOL – Bong Mom, you’re the best!!!

  37. le says:

    Love your Post Bee.. More than anything, i just cant stand woman who degrade other women for what ever reason, it could be.. If women dont understand women, who else will…

  38. Margie says:

    I missed this post…but I am so glad that I have found it, read it, reflected upon it and can respond to it.

    I LOVE the ode to your mom, and that is exactly what I think it is. She was her own person, and by being that glorious soul she allowed you to become who you are. (Good job, Mom!) Bless both of you! And…to all the unsung heroes that carry on without so much as a, “Thank you!” you bring good that cannot be measured by any yardstick, monetary or otherwise (besides, we all KNEW the REAL numbers and are REMINDED of them DAILY)!
    Kudos’ to the women that work their fingers to the bone, day in and day out. Oh, and that doesn’t leave out the stay-at-
    home moms, either. There is a time, a place and a reason for each and every one of us. It will be revealed. It really, really will. :) Until then, we stay united, blessed in the comfort that we do not journey alone.

  39. mallugirl says:

    Bee, i cook like that but i get so sick of the same ol food(DH will gladly eat it)that i end up cooking new stuff again.
    Everything is work if you are forced into it. I bet you cook more than your mom and u enjoy it too, but the day u are expected to cook, u will lose the charm of it!!
    my DH is the cleaner in my house.I cook but he can clean better than i can!!

  40. Paz says:

    I love rice. ;-)

    Paz

  41. Rosa says:

    A deliciously healthy dish!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  42. Sunshinemom says:

    Not only pay scales, see the difference in prize money for men’s tournament and women’s tournaments – cricket, tennis anything! Everywhere the men get more for the same achievement, and that is just so ridiculous! I do enjoy cooking but I too do that sometimes, but then I make one pot meals like yours instead. Mostly when my children return in the evening they have dalia or cornflakes or oats which my daughter makes on her own. I hope she will grow up and say what you said about your mom:), just be happy that I did not ‘over pamper’ her!!

    Rice looks luscious, and I am able to access your blog now. I do not know what had gone wrong, because I did not remove any blocks!!



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