Pelau Power: A One-Pot Wonder Must-Try for Foodies Everywhere

Pelau is a beloved dish in Trinidad and Tobago, and is a staple at any social gathering. This “one pot” dish is made with a combination of rice, pigeon peas, meat (usually chicken or beef), vegetables, and a variety of seasonings such as garlic, thyme, and pimento. The signature ingredient that sets pelau apart from other rice dishes is burnt sugar, which gives it a distinct aroma and flavor.

While pelau is often associated with being a quick and easy meal, it is important to note that preparation can be time-consuming. Soaking the peas overnight and marinating the meat for a few hours prior to cooking is essential for achieving the desired flavor and texture. Despite the time and effort required, the end result is always worth it. Pelau is a dish that brings people together, and is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Trinidad and Tobago.


Prep Time: 15minutes 

Cook Time: 45minutes 

Total Time: 1hour 

Course: Rice Dishes

Cuisine: creole


  • 1½ lb chicken seasoned
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 sprig chive
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
  • 1 bouillon cube optional
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tin processed pigeon peas or 1 cup fresh pigeon peas
  • 1 whole green hot pepper
  • 1½ cups rice
  • 1 cup chopped pumpkin
  • 1 medium carrot peeled and diced
  • 4 small ochros optional
  • 1/2 cup whole corn optional
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste


  1. Clean the chicken and cut into small pieces. Season with lime juice and salt, pepper, chive, thyme, chadon beni, and parsley. Set aside to marinate for at least 3 hours.
  2. In a deep pot heat 2 tablespoons of sugar until slightly brown. Add the seasoned chicken. Stir in a little water ( about 1/4 cup) and cook until evenly browned.
  3. Continue to simmer for about 3 minutes. Prepare the peas, carrots, pumpkin, vegetables and herbs for the pot. Add to the boiling liquid. Stir then add the rice and coconut milk.
  4. Add water and tomato paste (and bouillon cube). If you wish you can add the hot pepper now. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Uncover and stir occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the liquid has evaporated. If you add hot pepper, remove it from the pot. Serve pelau with cole slaw or green salad.

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Recipe © Simply Trini Cooking. All rights reserved.

Pelau II

Prep Time1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour 55 minutes
Course: Rice Dishes
Cuisine: creole
Author: Felix (Simply Trini Cooking)


  • 2 lbs. chicken
  • 2 bundles chive chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 dash oregano
  • 1 dash parsley
  • 1 dash paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. green seasoning
  • 2 big leaf thyme
  • 1 sprig spanish thyme
  • 5 sprigs fine leaf thyme
  • 1 pimento chopped
  • 1 celery chopped
  • 4 leaves chadon beni chopped
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tin pigeon peas 440g
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 2 1/2 cups rice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin chopped
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. golden ray margarine or butter
  • Water


  • Wash the herbs and set aside. Cut up the chicken and wash with lime. Season with the herbs and green seasoning. Marinate for at least 1 hour.
  • Over a medium flame, caramelize the sugar. Add the chicken. Allow to coat evenly with the sugar and let it cook in its own juices for about 3 minutes.
  • Add about 1/2 cup water and the 2 tablespoon of oil. Simmer for about 4 minutes. Add the pigeon peas, pumpkin,and 1/2 cup of water. Allow to simmer for about 4 minutes. Add 1 cup of coconut milk and the rice. Stir the pot to mix the ingredients.
  • Add the golden ray margarine and tomato paste. Allow to simmer until the rice is cooked. Occasionally stir the pot. When the rice is cooked lower the flame very low and allow the excess water to evaporate.
  • Serve hot with cole slaw.
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