Trinidad Pelau Chicken and Pigeon Peas

Trinidad pelau recipe

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 35 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Marinate chicken: 2 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 35 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1182 Calories
55g Fat
91g Carbs
76g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 1182
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 55g 71%
Saturated Fat 26g 130%
Cholesterol 190mg 63%
Sodium 531mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 91g 33%
Dietary Fiber 12g 41%
Protein 76g
Calcium 138mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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.


  • 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 (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or canola oil)
  • 3 tablespoons cane sugar (can substitute for brown sugar)
  • 2 cups rice (washed, drained and parboiled)
  • 3/4 cup onions (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup sweet peppers (chopped)
  • 2 cups cooked pigeon peas (canned is fine)
  • Optional: 1 cup carrots (diced)
  • 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)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Trini pelau ingredients
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  2. In a large bowl, place chicken, green seasoning, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and ketchup along with salt and pepper (to taste).

    Ingredients in a bowl
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  3. Toss to mix and coat the chicken with the seasonings. Set aside and let marinate for at least an hour.

    Toss to mix
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  4. Pour oil into a large pot and place on medium-high heat. Let oil heat until hot but not smoking.

    Oil in pot
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  5. Make the burnt sugar by sprinkling it into the heated oil in an even layer.

    Add sugar
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  6. Let the sugar melt until it starts to froth and bubble.

    Let sugar melt
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  7. 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.

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  8. Let cook for 7 to 10 minutes.

    Let cook
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  9. Add the rice to the pot, stir to mix and cook for 3 minutes.

    Add rice
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  10. Add onions, sweet peppers, pigeon peas, and carrots (if using) and cook for 1 minute.

    Add onions
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  11. Pour in coconut milk and other cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Pour in coconut milk
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  12. Toss in whole scotch bonnet pepper. Cover pot and bring to a boil.

    Add Scotch bell pepper
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  13. 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.

    Remove lid
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  14. Cover pot fully, reduce heat to low and let cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.

    Cover lid
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  15. Sprinkle the green onion on top and fold into Pelau. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if necessary.

    Sprinkle green onion
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  16. Serve hot or at room temperature.

    Serve hot
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack