We were into hour 5 of the long drive to Connecticut from Toronto to watch the Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors take on the US men’s national team in a world Cup qualifying game. My friend who was the designated driver for the trip, asked if I had ever done a curry chicken pelau. The next hour or so we found ourselves engrossed in the possibility of such a recipe and why we thought it was a delicious idea. Though neither of us had tried it before, in our minds it was doable.This curry chicken pelau is a tribute to that trip and the way we dissected the (possible) recipe.
2 boneless/skinless chicken breast (1.5-2 lbs)
1 tablespoon Caribbean Green seasoning
2 scallions (chopped)
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1 med tomato (diced)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 tablespoon salt (adjust)
1/4 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
1 teaspoon tomato ketchup
2 tablespoon curry powder (divided)
2 tablespoon veg oil
1 can coconut milk (abt 1.5 cups)
2 cups water
2 cups parboiled brown rice (washed)
1 can pigeon peas (drained/rinsed)
4 cloves garlic
1/2 small onion
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
* adjust liquid as necessary – since different brands of rice tend to differ in cooking time.
Cube the chicken into 3/4 inch pieces and season with the Caribbean Green Seasoning, black pepper, salt, scallions, Garam Masala, 1/4 of the curry powder, ketchup, scotch bonnet pepper and tomato. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling such hot peppers. Stir well and allow to marinate for a couple hours in the fridge.
Heat the veg oil on a medium flame, then go in with the chopped garlic and onion, turn the heat down to LOW and gently cook for 3-4 minutes. Then add the remaining curry powder (heat still on low) and cook for another 4 mins. This will allow us to bring out the flavors of all the spices which make up the curry powder.
Turn the heat up to high now and add the seasoned chicken and stir well… try to pick up all the curry-goodness at the bottom of the pot. Turn the heat to med, cover and let it cook for about 4-5 minutes. It will spring it’s own juices.
Remove the lid and crank up the heat to burn off all that liquid and infuse the chicken pieces with the curry base. Now add the diced carrot and pigeon peas. Stir well.
In the same bowl you marinated the chicken swish around the water to pick up any remaining marinade.. pour into the pot now. Along with the coconut milk. Wash the rice (to remove grit and extra starch), drain and ad it to the pot. To wash the rice you have two options as we’ve discussed before. 1. Place in a bowl, add water and using your hands massage. the water will turn white… drain. repeat until the water runs relatively clear. Option 2. Place in a strainer and run water over the rice.. Massage with your fingers. When the water runs clear, the rice is washed.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, have the lid slightly ajar and cook until tender and all the liquid is gone. About 25 minutes. Here is where you personalize things a bit near the end. I like my pelau a bit grainy so that liquid was enough for the way I wanted it. Add more water if you want it more ‘soggy” (wet pelau) and be sure to taste for salt and adjust accordingly. As I turn the heat off I topped it with the chopped cilantro.
Tip: To avoid having dry pieces of chicken I would recommend using chicken thighs. This is NOT traditional pelau.. had to make that clear as I know this post/recipe will only encourage the ‘hate’ comments. This is a fusion of curry chicken and rice using a technique similar to make chicken pelau… except we didn’t ‘stew’ the chicken as would normally be done. Serve warm!