Chef Irie’s Trinidadian Chicken Pelau

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A one pot rice dish with beans, chicken, sugar and spices.

A one pot rice dish with beans, chicken, sugar and spices.

Trinidadians call chicken pelau “peasant food”, but we think this one pot rice dish is fit for a king. Try Chef Irie’s non-traditional take on a traditional Trinidadian meal. Try this with Chef Irie’s Pineapple Pepper Slaw.


  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Kosher Salt
  • ¼ cup canola
  • 2 tbsp browning
  • 2 – 3lbs chicken thighs and legs, cut into 2” pieces


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 tbsp water
  • ½ cup medium diced onions
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups Calabaza pumpkin, ½” diced
  • 2 cups green or brown gandules / Pigeon peas
  • 4 cups parboiled rice
  • 1 tbsp red chili flakes
  • 8 cups chicken, vegetable stock or water
  • 3 – 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 stalks green onions, bulb removed and cut in half
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves


  1. Add chicken to large bowl and season generously with spice blend and oil then season with salt. Add the browning and mix well until the chicken pieces have taken the color of the browning. Let stand covered for 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Remove chicken from refrigerator and let stand to room temp.
  3. Add sugar, oil and water to large sauté or sauce pan on medium or low medium heat. Stir the sugar around then let it caramelize until a dark golden caramel color has been reached. Add the chicken pieces to the pan. Stir around until the caramel has been absorbed and picked up by the chicken.
  4. Add the garlic and onions and cook for 2 minutes before adding the next three ingredients. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir very well until the all the rice is evenly coated. Add the chili flakes and the stock. Add salt and seasoning to taste. Stir well.
  5. Add the thyme and green onions on the top. Cover the pot and allow to come to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer on medium low heat. Dish is done when liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender. Turn off the heat and let the dish sit covered for 10 -15 minutes.
  6. To serve, use a fork and fluff the rice. Spoon serving on a plate or bowl, add a few cilantro leaves as garnish.