Exotic | Pelau

By Cynthia Nelson
September 10, 2012

Photography By Cynthia Nelson



3 pounds (1500 g) chicken cut up

2 tablespoons (30 ml) green seasoning

2 teaspoons (10 ml) finely grated garlic

1 tablespoon (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon (15 ml)soy sauce

1 tablespoon (15 ml)tomato ketchup

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable or canola oil

3 tablespoons (45 ml) brown sugar

2 cups parboiled rice(500 ml), washed and drained

¾ cup (175 ml) chopped onions

½ cup (125 ml) chopped pimentos or sweet peppers

1 cup (250 ml) diced carrots (optional)

2 cups (500 ml)cooked pigeon peas

2 cups (500 ml)coconut milk

2 cups cooking liquid (500 ml) (stock, water or reserved cooking liquid from peas)

1 whole scotch bonnet pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup (125 ml) sliced green onions (white and green parts)


1 bowl with cover

1 heavy-bottomed pot with cover

1 large spoon


1. Add chicken, green seasoning, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, ketchup to bowl along with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to mix thoroughly and set aside to marinate for at least one hour

2. Add oil to pot and heat on medium high heat; when oil is hot (not smoking) sprinkle in sugar in an even layer. Let melt until the sugar starts to froth and bubble. Immediately add the chicken and stir to mix. Let cook for 7 – 10 minutes

3. Add rice and stir to mix. Let cook for 3 minutes

4. Add peas, peppers and carrots (if using); cook for 1 minute

5. Pour in coconut milk and other cooking liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste, toss in whole pepper. Cover pot and bring to a boil

6. When pot comes to a boil, remove lid partially and let boil until you can see the surface of the dish – rice, peas and chicken clearly. Cover pot fully, reduce heat to low or simmer and let cook for 25 – 30 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated

7. Sprinkle the green onions on top and fold into rice

 8. Serve hot or at room temperature


– It is important to note the stage of the melted sugar for adding the chicken, if the melted sugar starts to turn black, then it is burnt and will have a bitter taste. If this happens. Start over the process.

– I used a whole chicken but you can opt to use thighs, drumsticks or a combination of both

– Pelau can be made with any type of meat or rice but the cooking times would vary for the meats and so would the amount of cooking liquid for the rice.

For more great recipes, and insight, visit www.tasteslikehome.org and purchase Cynthia’s cookbook, Tastes Like Home.

To view more food stories see the Spring 2010 issue of City Style and Living Magazine here.