I would never forget the first time I tricked my dad into eating my “Healthy Trini Pelau”. It smelled the same, looked the same… and in his opinion (and mine), tasted even better than my grandmother’s original recipe. My dad, like many other “true Trinis” place a certain level of reverence to the almighty pelau. It is a rice dish that is popular in the West Indies, and each island has its own unique twist. In Trinidad and Tobago, the dish is traditionally built around a stewed meat protein (usually chicken) to which rice and a wide array of local vegies is added. The dish is popular for its depth of flavor and bold, unique taste. If you ever happen to stop by a true Trini’s home on a Sunday, you know what’s bubbling in that pot- Pelau!
Today I would like to share my version of Pleau, which has been face-lifted with healthier ingredients that still preserve the integrity and flavor – worthy of calling this my favorite meal!
· 1 ½ Cups Brown Rice
· ½ Cup Frozen or Fresh Pigeon Peas
· ½ Cup Chopped Carrots
· ½ Cup Grated Pumpkin
· ½ Cup Frozen of Fresh Sweet Corn
· 2 Small Tomatoes, Pureed
· 2 Stalks Local Chive Chopped
· 2 Sprigs of Local Thyme
· 3 Cloves Finely Minced Garlic
· Half Small Onion Finely Chopped
· 1 Teaspoon Finely Minced Ginger
· 2 Tablespoons Organic Coconut Oil
· 1 Teaspoon Liquid Aminos or Low Sodium Soy Sauce
· 1 Tablespoon Raw Organic Cane Sugar
· 1 Tablespoon “Golden Ray” Margarine Substitute (see recipe below)
· 1 Cup Water
· ½ Cup Coconut Milk (Freshly made or unsweetened)
· 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper
· Salt and freshly ground black pepper to tast
Marinated Chicken :
· 3 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts Chopped into Large Cubes
· 3 to four Stalks Local Chives Finely Minced or Blended
· 2 Stalks Local Celery Finely Minced or Blended
· 4 Cloves Finely Minced Garlic
· 1 Teaspoon Finely Minced Ginger
· 1 Tablespoon Lemon Pepper
· 1 Tablespoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
· 2 Teaspoons Paprika
· 1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
· 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
· Zest of 1 Lime
“Golden Ray” Margarine Substitute:
· 1 Tablespoon Organic Coconut Oil
· 1/2 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
(Combine both ingredients in a small bowl and use as desired)
· In a medium sized bowl create marinade by combining minced chive, celery, garlic, ginger, lime juice, lime zest and spices. Add in chicken and mix well. Marinate for a minimum of one (1) hour before use.
· Place a medium sized pot over a high flame for approximately 2 minutes, or until pot is heated. Add coconut oil and reduce heat.
· Once oil is hot (bubbles start to form), carefully add in sugar. The sugar will begin to melt and bubble, before rising. It will then begin to caramelize at this point. You may begin to stir the caramel as the colour develops from a light hazel shade to a rich dark brown colour. Once you detect a dark brown colour, your caramel or "Stew" is ready. The caramel will burn easily as the temperature escalates, so act quickly with the following steps.
· Carefully add seasoned chicken and liquid aminos or soy sauce, and cook for about 5 minutes or until the chicken pieces are evenly coated with the yummy stewed sauce. I also recommend allowing the chicken to brown properly, for at least 3 minutes.
· Add in chopped thyme, onion, garlic and ginger.
· Add peas, carrots, pumpkin and corn, followed by rice and ¼ cup of water (or just enough to cover the rice).
· Add in scotch bonnet pepper.
· Cook for approximately 10 to 15 minutes before adding in coconut milk, pureed tomatoes, chopped chives and optional margarine substitute. Allow to simmer partially covered for another 15-20 minutes, adding in water as necessary to cook the rice. Stir occasionally to prevent the contents from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once the rice is fully cooked and not hard or crunchy, you can remove from the heat and enjoy!
Pelau is typically served alongside fresh cole slaw. It is pictured above with a quick spicy tomato salad.
This dish is very close to my heart, so I hope that you will appreciated learning how to reinvent your favourite meals in healthier and exciting ways. Your will be amazed at the results!