Carnival Pelau
  Debbie Bachu Ragoonath
February 2020


Carnival is considered to be the greatest festival in the world by Trinidadians and Tobagonians. It is one of the biggest street parties that take place during two consecutive days. One of the highlights is the delicious street foods that are convenient to carry and easy to consume whether it is on the streets or in a fete (party). Here is a delightful recipe you can use during the carnival season.


Pelau (Rice, Chicken and Pigeon Peas)

Serves 8


2 lbs. of chicken pieces

¼ tsp. of black pepper

1 tsp. of salt

½ tbsp. of mustard

1 tbsp. of minced garlic

1 tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp. of red wine vinegar

2 tbsp. of lime juice

2 tbsp. of ketchup

2 tbsp. of brown sugar

3 tbsp. of vegetable oil

3 drops of Angostura Bitters

1 cinnamon stick

¼ cup of chopped pimento peppers

½ cup of chopped onions

½ cup of chopped pumpkin

½ cup of diced carrots

1 cup fresh green seasoning

2 cups of parboiled rice

1 cup of coconut milk

1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth (or water)

1 ½ cups of pigeon peas

I tbsp. of chopped celery

1 tbsp. of thyme

2 tbsp. of salt

1 whole Congo pepper with stem



  1. Wash chicken well with lime juice and drain.
  2. Season chicken with salt, black pepper, 4 tbsp. of fresh green seasoning, minced garlic and Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, ketchup, onions and pimento peppers. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for approximately ½ to 1 hour.
  3. Heat oil in a large pot/ skillet.
  4. Place the cinnamon stick to sauté’ in oil for 5minutes to flavour oil.
  5. Remove cinnamon stick and add sugar leave to caramelize until it is golden brown and frothy approximately 5 to 7 minutes.[ do not allow it to get dark brown, it will become bitter.]
  6. Add seasoned chicken and stir until all is evenly coated.
  7. Cook in medium heat for 5 minutes.
  8. Add carrots, pigeon peas, pumpkin, rice and salt. Mix well. Cook for 10 minutes.
  9. Add celery leaves, thyme, remaining fresh green seasoning, coconut milk and broth. Stir well. Bring to a boil.
  10.  Add the whole Congo pepper. Cover and lower heat and simmer about 25 to 30 minutes.
  11.  Cook until all liquid has evaporated. Remove whole Congo pepper before serving.




Fresh green seasoning:

3 tbsp. chive

2 tbsp. celery

2 tbsp. onions

1 pimento pepper

1 tbsp. cilantro

2 cloves garlic

2 tbsp. parsley

Wash, chop and place all ingredients into mini chopper and chop until fine.



  1. ½ cup sweet peppers, ½ cup of kernel corn can also be added to pelau.
  2. Other meats can also be used in place of chicken. E.g. beef, salted beef, pig tail or turkey.
  3. For a non- meat or vegetarian pelau (peas and rice), do not add any meat/poultry.
  4. Chicken can be replaced with soya chunks. Rehydrate soya chunks and season the same as chicken.
  5. This can be served with a fresh green salad or coleslaw and a refreshing drink.


By: Debbie Bachu Ragoonath | FOOD | February 2020