I'm not an aficionado of Caribbean food, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Nigella's recipe for Rice and Peas (pg 344-5 of Nigella Kitchen) is not altogether authentic, and errs on the side of being bland. I added an extra onion and two extra cloves of garlic, swapped the red chile for a jalapeno pepper because that's what I found at the store, and added shredded chicken to the pot. Maybe if there were less rice involved (the recipe calls for 2 cups), the flavors would be more pronounced. Or maybe she keeps it bland because in the book, she pairs it with Jerk Chicken. In hopes that Charlie would eat some, I opted against the Jerk Chicken. It's entirely possible that the creamy blandness here is designed to offset the chicken's spice.
That may sound like a bashing of the recipe, but I must say that the blandness didn't really bother me. In fact, I found my steaming bowl of coconut milk-flavored carbohydrates to be cozy and warm, like a good bowl of oatmeal can be. Matt, however, dumped what looked like a whole lot of salt and pepper into his.
Hard to tell if Charlie liked this or not. He ate a few spoonfuls of rice and beans, and then I got cocky and tried to slip a piece of chicken in. Mistake. He spit out the whole mouthful and refused to try any more. Sigh.
Conclusion: Liked it. As with many of Nigella's recipe, it can be pulled together from a well-stocked pantry. I'll be making this one again. I think I'll try to work a vegetable into it, too. Unfortunately, a girl can not live on white food alone.