Beef Pelau


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:

    6 to 8

Appears in

Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad and Tobago

Sweet Hands

By Ramin Ganeshram

Published 2018

  • About

Here is a version of pelau made with stewing beef. You can also use lamb. Beef pelau is commonly eaten among Muslim Trinidadians following Eid al Adha, a sacrificial feast day. Note that if you use dried peas you need to allow time for them to soak overnight.


  • 1 cup dry pigeon peas, pinto beans, or black-eyed peas, or 1 (12-ounce) can
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • ¾ cup sugar (white or brown)
  • 3 pounds stewing beef, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons green seasoning
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 5 scallions, ends trimmed and minced (white and green parts)
  • 2 cups cubed fresh calabaza or butternut squash
  • 1 small whole Scotch bonnet pepper or other red chili pepper
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  1. If using dried peas, soak them overnight in 3 cups of water. Drain. Bring 3 fresh cups of water to a boil in a saucepan and add the peas. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until cooked almost completely through. Drain and set aside. (If using canned beans, drain, rinse with cold water, drain again, and set aside.)
  2. Wash the rice by placing it in a colander or fine-mesh sieve and running cold water over it until the water runs clear, about 1 minute. Drain well and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or other heavy, deep pot. Add the sugar and swirl in the pot, stirring constantly, until it caramelizes to a dark brown color. Add the beef pieces and stir well to coat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in 1 cup of water, the coconut milk, bay leaf, green seasoning, parsley, thyme, carrots, and scallions. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the cooked or canned peas, rice, squash, chili pepper, ketchup, and butter. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the peas and vegetables are tender. Remove lid and fluff the rice. The rice should be moist but not sticky.