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Jamaican Gungo Peas
What It Is, Its Nutritional Benefits And A Simple Recipe

Jamaican Gungo Peas | Gungo Peas in Pod@GleanerJamaica

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by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

Gungo Peas is just one of the many evidences of Indian influence on Jamaica's cuisine. Many of our dishes and foods originated in other countries, were brought to Jamaica and creatively made into something new and unique to our country. Gungo Peas is a staple dish in Jamaican cuisine especially around Christmas. But that isn't all it's known for. Let's look at the origin, nutritional benefits and a simple recipe.

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Is Gungo a Pea?

Why, yes! It is a member of the legume family and is mostly found in warm or tropical areas. For example the Caribbean, Asia and Africa.

Is Gungo Peas the same as Pigeon Peas?

Yes, Gungo Peas is the same as Pigeon Peas. Gungo Peas as we Jamaicans call it, is commonly known elsewhere as Congo peas, No Eye peas, and Angola peas. The scientific name though is Cajanus cajan.

What Is Gungo Peas Good For?

While mostly used in Jamaican dishes to make a soup or as a variation of rice and peas, Gungo Peas has many nutritional and medicinal properties.

Here are ten nutritional values that Gungo Peas provide:

  1. Protein
  2. Potassium
  3. Magnesium
  4. Iron
  5. Sodium
  6. Phosphorus
  7. Fibre
  8. Carbohydrate
  9. Fat
  10. Calcium
  11. Vitamin C

With these nutritional values, Gungo Peas are able to:

  1. Boost the Immune System - Gungo peas are filled with Vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a huge role in building our immune system but when placed on heat some of its properties may diminish. If you are using gungo peas for this purpose it is best to chew on raw green seeds … as if they were nuts. Yes, they can be eaten raw.

  2. Assist with weight loss - Gungo peas are packed with vitamins and minerals but very low in calories, cholesterol, and saturated fats. It's filled with fibre that will help you feel full for longer and help to increase your metabolism.

  3. Help to regulate Hypertension - If you are anyone you know is suffering from high blood pressure, try adding gungo peas to your diet. Potassium, which is a component of these legumes, is known to help with the reduction of constricted blood vessels and lowering high blood pressure.

Gungo peas are also known to aid in growth and development, help with improving our digestive system, anaemia prevention, and cures haemorrhoids.

How Do We Use Gungo Peas in Jamaica?

Two of the most popular ways to prepare Gungo Peas in Jamaica is to make it in a soup or as rice and peas. Rastafarians and vegans are also known to use it in ital stews, or curried and used as a meat substitute.

Gungo Peas and Rice Recipe

Rice and peas is one of the most popular ways to prepare gungo peas, as a matter of fact, it is a tradition for us to switch out our red kidney beans for gungo peas during the Christmas season. So I think it’s only right that I share my recipe for Gungo Peas and Rice with you. Fun Fact, in Jamaica, we would actually say Gungo Rice and Peas. Anyway, here is what you will need:

  1. Gungo peas
  2. Rice
  3. Coconut milk
  4. Water
  5. Salt
  6. Scotch bonnet pepper
  7. Pimento (allspice) seeds
  8. Scallion and thyme
  9. Garlic
  10. Ginger
  11. Butter


  1. To prepare, add gungo peas, whole cloves of garlic, medium chopped ginger, and salt to a pot with water to boil. The water should only be a few inches above the peas. You will know the peas are fully cooked once they become soft.

  2. Add a generous amount of freshly juiced coconut milk to the pot, enough to cook the desired amount of rice you wish to cook.

  3. Add butter, a few stalks of thyme and scallion, pimento seeds, and whole pepper to the pot.

  4. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. At this stage you can use a spoon to taste the liquid and test the flavour, you can add more salt, butter, or any other of the seasonings if you so desire.

  5. Once you are satisfied with the flavour, add your rice and stir to combine and evenly distribute the peas.

  6. Once the liquid has been reduced, turn the heat on low and leave to steam until rice is fully cooked. One trick we use in Jamaica to ensure our rice is fully cooked is to cover it with a plastic bag at this stage. It works every time!

  7. Remove the pepper once the rice is cooked, then you can dig in and enjoy it with your family. 

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Other Pages Related To Jamaican Gungo Peas

You will also find these pages quite helpful as well:

Return to Jamaican Food from Jamaican Gungo Peas 
Return to My Island Jamaica Homepage from Jamaican Gungo Peas

References & Sources For Jamaican Gungo Peas

  1. 9 Surprising Benefits of Pigeon Peas | Organic Facts,  
  2. Gungo Peas, 
  3. Botanical Roots: Why you should eat gungo peas | Loop Jamaica,,%2C%20phosphorus%2C%20calcium%20and%20potassium
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