In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Curry Chicken Pelau.

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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.

You’ll Need…

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)
1 carrot
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Curry Chicken Pelau Recipe.
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  1. Karen
    April 28, 2018 / 12:56 pm

    Thank you for the recipe, it is delicious. I made some small modifications. I added plain yogurt to the chicken and marinated overnight. That is a little Indian trick to tenderize the meat. Then when I added the rice I didn’t add water immediately so that the rice could pick up the curry color and flavors. When I added the water I used hot water to keep the heat of the pot. I then added some browned sugar, just as if I were making traditional Palau by browning my sugar. About 2 teaspoons of sugar browned, I threw it in and let that just cook down. Delicious!

  2. Renita Mixson
    March 25, 2018 / 1:50 pm

    My trini man loved this.I love this recipe and this site thanks Chris

  3. Christine Grayson
    March 3, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    Hi Chris Love your site, I have a coconut allergy what would you recommend as a substitute for the coconut milk here?

    • admin
      March 11, 2017 / 10:45 pm

      probably (dairy) cream? Or you can do as they do in Barbados and leave out the coconut milk. use chicken or beef stock

      • Christine Grayson
        April 30, 2017 / 10:55 pm

        Hey thank you so much!! I looked into it a little further with your suggestion and they say that incarnation milk in the can is a substitute!! Take care!!

  4. Kelly
    November 7, 2016 / 9:28 pm

    How many people would this feed?

  5. liddy
    August 26, 2016 / 1:15 pm

    This is the way we always cook oelau in our family

  6. david
    August 1, 2016 / 11:45 am

    You invented this you say, interesting

    • admin
      August 2, 2016 / 10:48 am

      Invented may be stretching it possibly.. it came up during a discussion as we drove.

  7. Decima Morancie
    June 16, 2016 / 6:43 pm

    I made this and it’s fingerlicking. Thanks Chris for sharing.

  8. Claudia D Merkow
    June 3, 2016 / 10:57 pm

    Will try this, I’m not a cooking person but will give this a try for my (bajian) boss. Grateful I found your site

  9. May 7, 2016 / 5:23 pm

    This recipe is outstanding!! I made it and it was delicious!! Thanks for sharing.

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