Pelau (pronounced pay-la-w) is an easy one pot dish, popular in Trinidad and perfect for liming, at a picnic, or even at home on a lazy day. This popular rice dish can be cooked with any type of meat or combination of meat such as chicken, beef, lamb, goat, pork, and even “wild meat” (agouti, deer etc.). This is my sister, Lover’s recipe. We make this every year for our parish’s annual International Food Day. Disclaimer: I’ve never “measured” ingredients for this recipe, since I make it so often. The measurements may need to be adjusted slightly.
3-4 cups rice
enough water to just cover the rice
1 pot spoon of sugar (large metal spoonful)
seasoning salt and black pepper
2 lbs of chicken/beef (butchered for stewing)
1/2 pound of boiled salted meat (pig tail or salted beef)
1 can of pigeon peas (drained and rinsed)
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1 tb butter
1/2 can of coconut milk or 1/2 pack coconut milk powder
1 onion diced
1/2 cup of diced carrots and 1/2 cup of pumpkin peeled and diced
1 cup of sliced okra
Season meat with seasoned salt and pepper and put to the side. Add crushed garlic, Spanish Thyme, pimento, etc for more flavor.
Heat oil in a heavy pot. Once hot, add sugar and stir until caramelized. Be careful not to burn the sugar*.
Add seasoned meat into sugar mixture and stir meat until fully coated in browned sugar.
Cook meat until almost done or until no longer pink.
Add uncooked rice and peas to pot. Stir until coated with sugar mixture as well.
Add enough water to cover meat/rice/peas mixture. At this point you can add a whole habanero pepper, for added heat. Allow it to burst during cooking. Do not remove until you serve the pelau.
Next add onions, okra, carrots, pumpkin, salted meat, and coconut milk or powder.
Bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes. Place top on pot and lower temperature to low. Cook until rice is done, about 20 minutes. Ass butter just before serving.
Fluff with fork. DO NOT STIR!
*Some people like their pelau dark, others like it brown or light brown. If you want it dark, be careful not to burn the sugar too much or else the pelau will taste bitter, and lose most of its flavor. I personally, prefer pelau that is not too dark. Instead of “burning” the sugar, some people buy ready-made browning. This saves time, but be careful with the amounts of browning added.