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 Trinidad and Tobago Recipe

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by Dave DeWitt and Mary Jane Wilan

The process of caramelizing the meat is an African influence which became part of the Creole culinary tradition. The process gives the pelau its dark brown color--a sure sign of a good pelau. The brown layer that forms on the bottom of the pot is called "bun-bun," and for some people, it's their favorite part of this meal.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar (white or brown)
  • 1 chicken, cut up (about 2 to 3 pounds), or substitute goat meat or beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup pigeon peas, soaked overnight, or substitute black-eyed peas
  • 2 cups rice (do not use instant rice)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup Coconut Milk
  • 2 cups cubed fresh Hubbard squash
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • cup chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bunch scallions or green onion, chopped including the greens
  • cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Heat the oil in a heavy pot or skillet. With the heat on high, add the sugar and let it caramelize until it is almost burned, stirring constantly. Add the chicken (or meat) and stir until all the pieces are covered with the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
Drain the pigeon peas and add them to the pot along with the rice, water, and coconut milk. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, stir until well mixed, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. The pelau should be moist at the end of the cooking time.

More recipes by Dave DeWitt and Mary Jane Wilan

Dave DeWitt's website:

Callaloo, Calypso and Carnival: The Cuisines of Trinidad and Tobago
Dave DeWitt & Mary
Jane Wilan



Recipe Dave DeWitt & Mary Jane Wilan, 2002 - Copyright CaribSeek 2002 - All Rights Reserved.
Web Published: August 21, 2002