Trinidadian Chicken and Rice (Pelau)

Serves 6


  • 4 stalks scallion, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bunches fresh chadon beni (culantro) or cilantro
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 Scotch bonnet (optional)
  • 6 pimiento peppers
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into parts
  • 2 cups dried pigeon peas
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 cups canned coconut milk
  • 2 cups parboiled rice, washed and drained
  • 3⁄4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped calabaza pumpkin
  • 1⁄2 cup peeled and chopped carrots
  • 1 whole Scotch bonnet
  • 1⁄2 cup sliced scallions


1. To make the Trini-style green seasoning, puree the scallions, thyme, chadon beni, parsley, garlic, onion, Scotch bonnet, pimiento peppers, vinegar and oil in a blender. Remove to a baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the soy sauce, ketchup and 1 tablespoon of the oil to the green seasoning. Season with salt and pepper, add the chicken and set aside while you cook the peas.

3. In a small pot, cover the peas with salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, until the peas are cooked. Drain the peas and reserve the cooking liquid.

4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a pot on medium heat; when the oil is hot, sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the base of the pot. Let the sugar melt and when it starts to bubble, add the chicken and sear it, turning often, until browned and coated with the “burnt” sugar, about 8 minutes. Add the peas and stir. Add 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid and the coconut milk and cook for about 30 minutes.

5. Stir in the rice and up to another cup of the reserved cooking liquid as needed and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the onions, pumpkin, carrots and Scotch bonnet. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until much of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Cover the pot and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, 30 to 40 minutes.

6. Serve garnished with the scallions.


Recipes & Images from Caribbean Potluck™ by Suzanne and Michelle Rousseau © 2014 Kyle Books - Photographs by Ellen Silverman