Pelau: the Caribbean’s best one-pot dish

A Trinidadian meal that will leave you wanting more

Deborah LB

A one pot Caribbean dish, Pelau is a true Trinidad dish. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Jamaican rice and peas and  a Guyanese cook-up rice, but no other island one pot dish can even come close to the Trinidadian Pelau. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can still enjoy this dish, just omit the chicken, add some extra veggies and you’re good to go.


  • 2 – 2 ½ lbs. mixed chicken pieces or legs and thigh, cut up and rinse with lime juice
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • ¼ cup green seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium size carrot, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced/chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced/chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, DE-stemmed or leave whole
  • 4 pimento flavoring peppers, chopped, optional
  • 2 cups frozen pigeon peas, boiled for 15 minutes
  • 2 cups parboiled long grain rice
  • 2 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoon brown or white sugar
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 4 sprigs parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 2 packs chicken or vegetable bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon cooking margarine (golden ray) optional
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, optional


Marinade chicken with green seasoning salt and black pepper for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight. Then add onion, tomato, carrot, bell peppers, pimento peppers, celery and thyme to marinated chicken, and set aside.

To caramelize the sugar, heat a large pot on high heat, add oil and heat for about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, but do not stir! Allow the sugar to melt until it starts to get brown around the edges. Using your pot spoon, stir the sugar around, about 3 to 4 times until it starts to melt and become like liquid. It should start getting light brown in color and frothy in less than a minute. Stir the sugar again with your spoon, until it becomes darker in color. The entire browning process should take at least 2 to 3 minutes. Start adding the seasoned chicken a few pieces at a time, stir constantly to ensure all the pieces get coated evenly with the caramelized/burnt sugar. But do not add the seasonings from the bowl, as you will be using it shortly. After adding all the chicken pieces, cover the pot and allow to cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes

Open pot lid, turn up the heat for about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir to allow the chicken to get a nice brown color. Now add any seasonings that was left over from the marinated chicken bowl. Add the drained cooked pigeon peas. Cover pot with lid for 5 more minutes.

While chicken is cooking, rinse rice in warm water about 3 to 4 times and drain. Add rice to pot and stir. Add golden ray butter if using, bouillon seasoning, ketchup, coconut milk. Add water and mix together. Cook on high uncovered for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the whole scotch bonnet pepper. Turn heat to very low, cover pot and simmer for about 30 to 35 minutes, checking periodically to ensure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning if you need too. After you turn the heat off, add the parsley and mix in with your pelau.

Deborah LB is the popular food blogger of Inspired by her Caribbean upbringing, Debra owns and operates a Caribbean Catering and Meal Delivery Service with her husband, Bryan.



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