Trinidad Pelau Chicken and Pigeon Peas (Trini Pelau) Recipe

Braised Chicken in a Vegetable Tomato Rice
Lauri Patterson / Getty Images
  • 80 mins
  • Prep: 35 mins,
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings Trini Pelau
Ratings (44)

Trini pelau is an iconic dish of pigeon peas, meat or chicken that is cooked with fresh herbs and coconut milk. The entire dish is flavored and colored with burnt sugar.

This pelau is a one-pot dish that is made on weekends and especially when family and friends get together for a lime (Caribbean slang word for get-together).

Pigeon peas are legumes that have a nutty flavor and are frequently paired with rice and other grains. They can be found dried, canned or ground for flour. Canned pigeon peas can be used in this recipe and they are found in most large grocery stores or specialty Indian and Latin shops.

Another popular dish made with pigeon peas is Puerto Rican arroz con gandules.

What You'll Need

  • 3 pounds chicken thighs and or drumsticks, cut up into large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons green seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons grated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons cane sugar (substitute with brown sugar)
  • 2 cups parboiled rice, washed and drained
  • 3/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet peppers
  • 2 cups cooked pigeon peas (canned is fine)
  • 1 cup diced carrots (optional)
  • 2 cups fresh coconut milk (dilute milk with water if using canned coconut milk)
  • 2 cups cooking liquid (stock, water or reserved cooking liquid from peas)
  • 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions (white and green parts)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Make It

Marinate the Chicken

  1. In a large bowl, place chicken, green seasoning, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and ketchup along with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Toss to mix and coat the chicken with the seasonings. Set aside and let marinate for at least an hour.

Cook the Chicken

  1. Pour oil into a large pot and place on medium-high heat. Let oil heat until hot but not smoking.
  2. Make the burnt sugar by sprinkling it into the heated oil in an even layer. Let the sugar melt until it starts to froth and bubble. As soon as the edges of the froth/bubbles start to get a slight shade darker, immediately add the seasoned chicken and stir to mix and coat with the burnt sugar. Let cook for 7 to 10 minutes.
  1. Add the rice to the pot, stir to mix and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Add onions, sweet peppers, peas, and carrots (if using) and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Pour in coconut milk and other cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Toss in whole scotch bonnet pepper. Cover pot and bring to a boil.
  5. When the pot comes to a boil, remove lid partially and let boil until you can see the surface of the dish (about 7 to 8 minutes).
  6. Cover pot fully, reduce heat to low and let cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  7. Sprinkle the green onion on top and fold into Pelau. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if necessary.
  8. Serve hot or at room temperature.