Laissez Faire

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Diary of an Inconsistent Cook #12: Jag (Jagacida – Cape Verdean Bean and Rice)

I’ve got something special to share today.  Jag.   That’s all I ever heard it called when I was growing up, but apparently it is really called “Jagacida” which is simply beans and rice  and it is of Portuguese origin.    First a little background history!

If you don’t know, the Cape Verde Islands is an archipelago located off the coast of West Africa.     The historical influence there is heavily Portuguese (including Portuguese Jews who fled from in Inquisition), African, and European (much Spanish and Italian, but in later years also Dutch, French, British, Arab, Jew from Lebanon and Morocco, India, Indonesia, China, South America, Brazil, and America).  It would not be unheard of to have American Indian somewhere in the Cape Verdean ancestry.        I have always identified very strongly with being multi-ethnic American even as a child.    For me it was, “You mean I am the WHOLE WORLD?!”    Genetically, I’d say that’s very true!     It’s not uncommon for people of Portuguese, Spanish, Brazilian, Indian, Latino, or American Indian descent to see the resemblance and ask me if I am also.   As far as I know, only other Cape Verdeans ever recognize each other for being Cape Verdean despite vast differences in everyone’s appearance.    I don’t speak the Creole language, so don’t ask me.   I only know a couple of words and one swear!The food is also a melting pot with heavy influences from Africa and Portugal.

I will be posting my grandmother’s version of the national dish at some point, but it has a lot of ingredients and makes enough for an army.   For now, let’s start off with jag.

I warn you, for the most part you’ll have to put down your measuring cups and spoons and employ the use of your gut instincts.    This is more of a flavor profile than a recipe.   This is one of those dishes where it is not made the same by each person, and not even the same by the same person.      Got it?   Great!


Ingredients:  Hungarian is my favorite, but my family uses regular paprika.

Everyone makes their jag their own way, and even I have made further changes to what I grew up with to suit my own tastes and cooking techniques.   For one, I bake my rice thanks to the brilliance of Alton Brown so I never again will have a scorched bottom, mushy grains, or hard nibs to chew.  I really suck at making rice on the stove and I’m too cheap to buy a rice cooker.  I’m the only one in my family who prepares jag in the oven.    I use a 9×9 pan with 1 1/2 cups of rice, and 2 1/2 cups of water baked at 375F for an hour.

My grandmother and my whole family only uses Uncle Ben’s Rice (it is a parboiled white rice which is closer to brown rice and better nutritionally than regularly processed white).    I prefer to use straight-up, medium or long grained brown rice.  I have no idea what they use on the Islands, but if you want to make my grandmother’s rice, use Uncle Ben’s.

The beans.    I didn’t have any beans on hand which is why the can shown is generic.    It doesn’t matter what beans you like to use my family tends to use one of the following types:   red kidney beans, butter beans, lima beans, or peas (not actually a bean but you get the picture).     I have used with happy results pink beans, cranberry beans, white kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and black beans.   I know some people prefer to use fava beans.     Each bean gives the overall rice dish a different flavor and character.     My favorite is red kidney.    How much goes in, you ask?    That depends.  If you like a lot of beans use a lot.  If you prefer a higher rice to bean ratio, use less.  You can’t do it wrong.

That only goes for the beans, not the rice, okay?   You cannot use regular white rice; that would be wrong.   It is totally not the same.  Not even close.

The essential base of a good jag in my family is the simple spices.   The onion must be chopped fine and sauteed with salt, pepper, paprika, and butter in order to get the flavor I did when I was growing up.   But, again, you don’t have to.   Once you write down the gist, the recipe is yours to experiment with!        My mom puts in a bay leaf; my grandmother does not.


I kind of cheated with the preparation, but it’s okay.

Hold on!  Didn’t you say to saute the onion and paprika together.   Yeah, I did.  If you want to get that unique flavor you saute the onions just how I said, until they get fragrant and delicious before you add the rice, beans, water and let it cook until done.     I normally would use one small onion for cup and a half of uncooked rice I was using because I like onion.  However, yesterday I didn’t have time to do that (kids, cats, and snow to shovel) so I improvised with dried onion which did not give me that “oomph” of flavor, but it was okay.    I made due with the time I had.  That’s how it goes sometimes!   I even threw in some garlic to compensate for the lack of saute goodness, which my grandma never uses.

Finished and fragrant.   I am using frozen peas, so i like mine green and add them in later.  If you like well cooked peas put them in at the same time as the rice.

Finished and fragrant. I am using frozen peas, so i like mine green and add them in later. If you like well cooked peas put them in at the same time as the rice.

Wait!  You didn’t tell us how long to cook it!    Well, my way with my amount according to Alton Brown’s method take about an hour.   If you are doing it on a stove top or rice cooker, you are own your own.  Cook it until it is done and smells good!  If you like mushy rice, cook it longer with more liquid.  Make the firmness how you like it.

My Grandmother Prepares it thus:
Saute onion, paprika, salt, pepper, butter.
Add Uncle Ben’s rice, beans, and water.
Cook on stove top.She tends to make rice that’s fluffy and plump.

My Mother Prepares it thus:
Saute onion, paprika (a lot), salt, pepper, butter, bay leaf.
Add Uncle Ben’s rice, beans (or canned peas), and water.
Cook on stove top.
She tends to make rice that is firmer and drier.

I Prepare it thus:
Saute lots of onion, lots of paprika, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, bay leaf.Add brown rice, beans, and water (if using, I add in thawed frozen peas after rice is done cooking)
Cook in oven.
The rice tends to come out firm and fluffy.

You can serve this with just about anything, but it is particularly good with linguica (the brand of my youth is Amaral’s which is hard to get it isn’t local to you) or vinegar and garlic pork chops.   A favorite condiment, especially among the children, to serve it with is ketchup (you mix it in the rice, and I did this when younger).     I am very, very fond of it served next day warm with tuna fish prepared with mayonnaise.

The next time you make rice, try your hand at jag.  Let me know how you prepared it!   Comment and tell me what you think!

  1. Have you ever heard of jag before?
  2. Are you team stove top or team rice cooker or team oven?
  3. Bay leaf or no bay leaf?
  4. Uncle Ben’s, other parboiled rice, or brown?
  5. Which bean did you pick?

11 comments on “Diary of an Inconsistent Cook #12: Jag (Jagacida – Cape Verdean Bean and Rice)

  1. Pingback: Diary of an Inconsistent Cook #13: Chicken Gizaud (Pollo Gizado – Cape Verdean Stewed Chicken)) | Laissez Faire

  2. Pingback: Diary of an Inconsistent Cook #23: Cape Verdean Kale Soup with Kidney Beans (Caldo Verde) | Laissez Faire

  3. Stephanie
    October 3, 2015

    Yes , there are so many variations of Jag , most folks I know make it one or two ways 1.) red kidney beans and/or linguica or chorizo or 2.) lima beans with or without linguica . However, my Mom grew up with a next door neighbor who was Azorean married to a man from Alabama . Well , she made her jagacida with pigtailsome , gandules and lots and lots of onions . This version is absolutely delicious but takes hours to cook , but we’ll worth it . Needless to say , this is the version my mother and now her children follow .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      October 3, 2015

      I missed the word after pigtails! I have heard of people throwing in neck bones for flavor. Does your family also make cachupa/munchupa?


  4. Pingback: Jag | Foodways Pilgrim

  5. Pingback: Diary of an Inconsistent Cook #55: Ma’s Spaghetti in the Oven — Baked Spaghetti (#homecooking) | Laissez Faire

  6. Pingback: Diary of an Inconsistent Cook #57: Braised Beef and Vegetables (#homecooking) | Laissez Faire

  7. Stacey Camillo
    January 4, 2021

    How fun to come across this post! My mother, who is caucasian and from Indiana, learned to cook jag from my grandmother Camillo who was from New Bedford and whose ancestors were from Brava. My mom modified it some adding in cut zucchini halfway through the rice cook. I cook on the stovetop, use Uncle Ben’s (like my grandma), regular paprika (a lot of it), onion, salt, no bay leaf, no pepper and black eyed peas. And other than following the Uncle Ben’s instructions, I just wing it. I’ve just started slow cooking my dry black eyed peas with a hamhock, diced onion, celery and carrots. I found that gives the jag some yummy layers of flavor and the beans aren’t as dry. I pick out all but the beans when I make my jag – just seems weird to have produce other than onions and maybe some zucchini in it. Thanks for helping validate my experience making jag!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      January 12, 2021

      Glad to hear that! Cape Verdeans go everywhere it seems. 😀 Enjoy your jag, I might try the zucchini. I do my rice in a rice cooker now…wow…game changer. Even better than the oven!


  8. shadowedluik
    December 24, 2021

    Good memories of this style rice being made whenever we had a family get together (Portuguese/Cape Verdean grandparents on one side of the family)! I make mine with sauteed onions & garlic and red kidney beans – including all the “goo” left inside the can once the beans are poured out – turns the rice a pinkish color but adds a flavor boost. Add a fried chourico sandwich on the side and I’m in heaven =)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      January 25, 2022

      I have made it that way too 🙂 I always make it different depending on what I have on hand. These days I only use a rice cooker to do it…so much easier.


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This entry was posted on February 9, 2015 by in cooking, dinner, entree, life and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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