Trinidad and Tobago Chicken Rice (Chicken Pelau)

Chicken Rice is the Trinidad and Tobago version of rice pilau that Indian indenture workers brought with them to the islands. The special Caribbean touch creates a livelier dish than its chicken and rice cousins like Mexico’s arroz con pollo or Singapore’s Hainanese chicken and rice.

Chicken Pelau – Trinidad and Tobago Chicken and Rice

Pelau is ba­si­cal­ly the na­tion­al casse­role of Trinidad and To­ba­go. It's one of the most ver­sa­tile (and ar­guably, de­li­cious) meals on the Islands. The use of local spices and caramelized chicken make this dish stand out.
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Course: Brunch, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Marinate: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 6
Author: My Hungry Traveler


  • Large Dutch oven with cover or large heavy pot


  • 6 Chicken thighs, skinless and boneless. Cut into 1-inch chunks.
  • 1 tbsp Garlic, minced and divided
  • ½ tsp Ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp Creole or cajun spice mix
  • tsp Dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ tsp Chicken bouillon, cube or powder
  • 2 tsp Parsley and or basil, minced
  • ½ cup Brown sugar
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 2 tsp Garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup Olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp Ketchup
  • 2 cups Long grain rice, rinsed until water run clear
  • 1 cup Peas, frozen until use
  • 3 cups Butternut squash, large cubes
  • 14 oz Can of coconut milk
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • cups Chicken broth
  • 1 Scotch bonnet or Habanero pepper, whole


  • Marinate Chicken – Place chicken in a large plastic freezer bag. Add ¼ tsp creole seasoning or salt, 1 tsp minced garlic, ginger, thyme, pepper, and minced basil. Seal bag and massage spices into chicken pieces. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and preferably overnight.
  • Cook Pelau – Remove chicken from refrigerator and shake off any loose bits.
    Heat Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat and add sugar. Keep stirring until it caramelizes and turns a deep brown but isn't burned. Immediately add chicken and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly to caramelize chicken. Transfer to a bowl, reserving 4 chunks to loosely dice garnish.
    Stir in onions, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp thyme, oil, bay leaves, and ketchup. Cook for 1 minute. Add rice, squash and peas and stir for another 3 minutes.
    Add in chicken broth, coconut milk, 2 tsp creole spice (or salt), paprika, and whole peppercorns. Mix everything together, bring to a boil, and then cover and reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally and cook until rice is done, about 20 minutes.
    Remove from heat and discard bay leaves and peppercorns. Transfer to a serving bowl, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle reserved chopped chicken pieces on top. Serve.

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