Trinidad Chicken Pelau

April 3, 2016
A savory one-pot meal with a combination of chicken, rice and pigeon peas.

Trinidad Chicken Pelau

After being out for a few weeks I am officially back with one of the most popular dishes from Trinidad and Tobago.

In fact, pelau is unofficially the national dish of Trinidad  (Tobago's is crab and dumpling first I feel).

If you are looking for a versatile one pot meal that has rice, pigeon peas and meat then you need to grab this pelau.

A flavorful meal that is extremely popular to take to beach limes, at parties, at outdoor concerts.

I think every West Indian country has it's own "national" dish, officially or unofficially. Or we easily associate a certain dish with an island.

Jerk is easily Jamaican. Pepper pot is for Guyana. Fungie is for Antigua and Barbuda. Conch is Bahamian. Crab and dumpling is for Tobago. Well pelau is simply Trini.

Ten points for anyone who, seeing this word for the first time, pronounces it right. And another 10 points for someone hearing this pronounced for the first time spells it right.

It's pronounced pay-lao.

This is a master one pot Caribbean dish.

The main meat being chicken (or pigtail or beef) is browned (the same process used to make stewed chicken) and then rice and pigeon peas are added.

And eventually, pumpkin, carrots, and coconut milk create a flavorful liquid for the dish to simmer down in.

Trinidad Chicken Pelau Ingredients

If there is a gathering of people (beach, house party, social event, cricket match) and something quick is needed, pelau is for sure going to be the go-to meal.

As kids, heading to the beach my mom was making this, and serving it to us with a side of coleslaw with avocado and tomatoes.

After playing in the sun and sand, and ingesting that salt water, a plate ah pelau is what is needed.

Trinidad Chicken Pelau

Heaping spoons of rice and meat being stuffed into mouths, amidst much laughter and plenty ole talk.

Additionals include spoons of pepper sauce, sprinkles of ketchup.

Then we slurping down some cold coconut water, mauby or cold beers.

Trinidad Chicken Pelau

Random instances of stolen meat from someone else's plate. Great moments and fond memories.

This is one of the dishes we refer to as "real trini food" and will always be a part of my menu whether I am at home or abroad.

Trinidad Chicken Pelau

I really encourage you to try this dish. If it's one Trini food you should try let it be pelau.

Check out my other one pot dishes:

One pot cuban yellow rice
Vegetable Lo Mein

Trinidad Chicken Pleau, One Pot Chicken Dish
Yield: 4
Author: Renz @ HomeMadeZagat
Trinidad Chicken Pelau

Trinidad Chicken Pelau

A step by step guide on making the unofficial Trinidad national dish, pelau. A hearty one pot dish of caramelized chicken with rice and pigeon peas.
Prep time: 30 MCook time: 40 MTotal time: 70 M


  • 2 lbs chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons green seasoning
  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 cups parboiled rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped pimento pepper (flavor pepper)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped culantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 1/2 cup cubed pumpkin
  • 2 cans green pigeon peas
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 cups coconut milk (Make your own)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Wash and clean chicken then season with green seasoning and set aside.
  2. Heat a heavy pot and add sugar, sprinkling evenly over the bottom of the pan.
  3. Leave sugar to caramelize until all sugar is brown.
  4. Add seasoned chicken, stirring to coat all chicken in browning
  5. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes
  6. Drain and add pigeon peas. Stir and cook for five minutes
  7. Add rice and combine
  8. Add coconut milk, water, pumpkin, peppers, onion, garlic, ginger, parsley, salt, black pepper, and ketchup
  9. Bring to boil, then lower heat.
  10. Simmer until rice is partially cooked (about 30 minutes)
  11. Add culantro
  12. Steam till rice is cooked **
  13. **Use additional water if rice will need more to be cooked
  14. ** You can season your meat as you would normally seasoning before cooking if you do not have green seasoning
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Trinidad Chicken Pelau Recipe

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Renz HomeMadeZagat
Renz HomeMadeZagat

Hi guys, I’m Renz. I am the chief cook and bottle washer here at HomeMadeZagat. I am here sharing Caribbean recipes that I grew up eating and new ones I’ve fallen in love with over the years. I just want to showcase the amazing diversity of Caribbean food and that everyone can recreate these dishes.