This is the traditional Puerto Rican rice dish served during Christmas season or for special occasions. Gandules are also known as Pigeon Peas and can be found at most Mexican/Latino grocery stores.
This special family recipe was shared with us by Waleska, one of our community members from Puerto Rico. ¡Muchas gracias y Bon Provecho!
2 cups of rice
2 cups of water or vegetable stock (take into consideration any tomato sauce to be added, if you choose to do this instead of tomato paste.
2 tablespoons of tomato paste or 1.5 cups of blended fresh tomatoes, or tomato sauce
1 small can of pigeon peas (gandules)
2-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil (any kind is good, olive, corn, whichever you favor)
1/2 medium sized onion
1/3 of a bell pepper
1/3 bunch of cilantro
4 cloves of garlic
1 heaping teaspoon of brown sugar
salt to taste. (Make it tasty! Don’t skimp on salt!)
These ingredients are optional:
1/3 of a stalk of celery, very, very finely chopped (sauté with veggies)
1 teaspoon of turmeric (sauté with veggies)
2 bay leaves (if used, add whole and do not eat!)
5-10 pitted olives (add with the rice water)
Mince the garlic separately and the onion separately. Finely chop all the vegetables. Use the cilantro stalks too as they are tasty. Add the oil to a pot and and warm up, medium heat. Add onion and a bit of salt and let them sweat. Once they are translucent, add the sugar and cook for 1 minute or less. Add veggies, except garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add garlic at the end and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato paste or sauce. Cook for a few minutes.
Add water or stock and pigeon peas. Bring to a boil. Add rice, lower temperature to medium, cover and let cook for 25-30 minutes, depending on your preference. Beat after cooked. Turn off heat and leave covered for 20 more minutes if necessary. When it is fully cooked, enjoy!