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 flavor from sweet potatoes and a spicy topping of toasted coconut, Scotch bonnet chilies, green olives and cilantro.
Heat oil in 4-quart Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes, bell pepper, onion and 1 tablespoon each of the cilantro and olives, and 1 teaspoon of the chiles; cook and stir 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; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until rice begins to look translucent.
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.
Mix toasted coconut, the remaining cilantro, olives and chilies in small bowl. Serve rice with coconut mixture.
Test Kitchen Tips:
• To substitute dried pigeon peas for the canned peas, rinse, soak and cook a heaping 1/2 cup of dried pigeon peas according to package directions until tender. Drain peas. Prepare recipe as directed using the pre-cooked pigeon peas.
• 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.
• Scotch bonnet chilies are small, extremely hot chilies that range in color 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.
• 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.