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Trinidad Pelau

Trinidad Chicken Pelau- An aromatic caramelized chicken pilaf, all the flavors of the Caribbean but quicker and easier.
Course Main
Cuisine Caribbean
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 -7
Calories 372kcal
Author Imma


Chicken Marinate

  • 1- 1 1/2 pound skinned chicken thighs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt or creole seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons green seasoning

Trinidad Pelau

  • ¼  – ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Ketchup
  • 2 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 3 cups butternut squash large dice
  • 15.5 oz. can pigeon beans rinsed and drained
  • 13.5 oz. can 1 3/4 cups coconut milk
  • 1- teaspoon chicken bouillon optional
  • 2 teaspoons creole spice
  • 1 teaspoons paprika optional
  • 3 ½ cups or more chicken broth or water
  • 1 whole scotch bonnet pepper.
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  • Place chicken in a large bowl or sauce pan then add salt, garlic, ginger, thyme, and white pepper 
  • Mix chicken with a spoon or with hands until they are well coated, set aside in the fridge. If possible marinate for 30 minutes or overnight.
  • When ready to cook shake off any excess spice or from the chicken.
  • Wash rice until water runs clear. Drain water. Set aside,
  • Place a large Dutch Oven or heavy bottom pan on medium heat, then add sugar, keep stirring until it caramelize and begin to turn deep brown. Be careful not to let it burn.
  • Stir in chicken and sauté for about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. I usually reserve some chicken to top the rice but it must be fully cooked.
  • Then add onions, garlic, thyme, oil, bay leaf and ketchup, sauté for about a minute.
  • Stir in rice to the pan, followed by squash and pigeon peas for about 3 minutes. This process helps to infuse the ingredients with all the spice before the next step
  • Finally add coconut milk, bouillon powder, creole spice,  paprika,scotch bonnet pepper .with 3 ¼ cups of water, bring to a boil reduce heat, and simmer until rice is cooked, about 20 minutes or more. Stir frequently from the sides to prevent burns, add more broth if needed.
  • Adjust for salt and pepper. Discard bay leaves .You have to stir occasionally to be preventing any burns.
  • Serve warm


  1. Replace pigeon peas with carrots or peas, either works well. 
  2. Butternut squash is not a must – feel free to leave it out. However, it adds  a certain sweetness to the rice .
  3. If you are not a sugar fan use about ¼ cup or omit all together- ½ cup is the perfect medium for me.
  4. The chicken can be prepped the night so that the spices can infuse the chicken. 


Calories: 372kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 138mg | Potassium: 772mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 7950IU | Vitamin C: 19.6mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 2.1mg