Vegan Trinidadian Brown Rice Pelau is a wholesome, delicious, healthy, and easy-to-make one-pot dish. Made from vegetables, brown rice, coconut milk, and pigeon peas, this pelau is super easy to make. Because it is a one-pot dish, it is very convenient to make, and you can make it for your friends and family and enjoy a hearty and delicious meal with them.

This dish is loaded with Caribbean flavors and offers a traditional tour of the amazing Trinidadian flavors. If you love to explore different cuisines and enjoy different dishes, I am sure you will fall in love with this vegan pelau recipe!

You will also love, Gluten-Free Doubles, Curry Chana, Curry Chataigne, and Tamarind Sauce

Trinidadian pelau rice overlay in a pot

What is a vegan Trinidadian Brown Rice Pelau?

Vegan Trinidadian brown rice pelau is a traditional Trinidadian dish made from brown rice, vegetables, pigeon peas, coconut milk, spices, and aromatics. It is traditionally made with chicken. However, we can make a vegan version by omitting the chicken and adding more vegetables to it. It is a delicious, filling, hearty, one-pot dish that you can make effortlessly.

ingredients for vegan pelau

Ingredient breakdown

Here is everything you will need for making vegan Trinidadian brown rice pelau:

  • Long grain brown rice: Brown rice is a type of rice that comes under the category of whole grain. That’s because, in brown rice, only the inedible part is removed while the rest of the hull and bran stays intact. As a result, it is far healthier than white rice. Brown rice has a chewy texture upon cooking. Furthermore, they take twice as much time to cook as the white rice. Brown rice comes with both short-grain and long grain. For this specific recipe, we are going to use long-grain brown rice. That’s because long-grain rice has less starch content in them.
  • Moreover, the grains are separate and drier. Therefore, they are perfect for recipes that have a lot of sauce or liquid in them. Long grain brown rice offers flavor, texture, and nutrients; therefore is a complete package.
  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil is light and is loaded with healthy fats. If you don’t use coconut oil for cooking, use olive oil or any other vegetable oil for this recipe.
  • Yellow onion: Yellow onions have a slightly sweet and savory flavor. They set the base for this recipe. Peel them and chop them finely and use them.
  • Garlic cloves: Garlic brings in a depth of savory flavor to the dish. It adds an intense garlicky flavor which is delicious.
  • Carrot: Adding carrot will not only bring a unique sweet flavor, but it adds vibrant color to this pelau dish.
  • Red bell pepper: Red bell pepper has a slightly sweet and citrusy flavor. It adds beautiful red color to the dish. You can use yellow or green bell peppers for this recipe as well.
  • Pigeon peas: Pigeon peas are a vital ingredient in this recipe. Pigeon peas have been a staple in several regions of Asia, Latin America, and Africa for 3500 years. These are also known as conga peas or red grams. Although these are brown, they grow in pods just like peas and are often used instead of green peas. Pigeon peas have a nutty flavor. You can find them in both fresh and dry forms. Pigeon peas are loaded with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They are high in iron, potassium, etc., and offer several health benefits.
  • Green onions: Green onions have a flavor similar to regular onions. The green part, however, has a grassy flavor. It brings a unique flavor combination to the dish.
  • Coconut milk: the richness and creaminess of this dish come from coconut milk. It is plant-based milk that is a perfect ingredient for adding richness to the dish. It offers a unique flavor that is almost buttery and creamy.
  • Cilantro: Cilantro adds freshness and tanginess to the dish.
  • Parsley: Parsley offers a blend of earthiness and peppery flavor to the dish.
  • Bragg’s liquid aminos: it is a sauce often used instead of soy sauce. It offers an umami flavor to the dish.
  • Molasses: Molasses is super sweet and thick. It is a byproduct that comes from the sugar-making process. It brings in a dark color and sweetness to the dish. Traditionally sugar is caramelized for this Trinidadian pelau recipe. However, by using molasses, we are getting the same flavor but are reducing the preparation step.
  • Organic cane sugar: You will need organic cane sugar for more sweetness.
  • Scotch bonnet pepper: This Caribbean pepper is super spicy. It is a perfect ingredient for you if you are a spice lover. A single whole scotch bonnet pepper can work wonders when it comes to adding heat.
  • Bay leaf: It adds a warm flavor to the dish. Moreover, it offers a unique and pleasant aroma.
  • Vegan bouillon cubes are made from vegetable stock and add so much flavor to this vegan dish. By using a vegan bouillon, you don’t have to add salt or any other seasoning.
Trinidadian pelau ingredients in the pot

How to make Vegan Trinidadian Brown Rice Pelau?

Making vegan Trinidadian brown rice pelau is quite easy. Since it is a one-pan dish, you don’t have to invest a lot of pans and pots. Therefore, it is quite convenient to make. Here is how you can make this dish effortlessly:

Step 1: Start by placing a large pot of medium heat. Because this is a one-pan dish. Make sure your pot is large enough to accommodate all the ingredients. Add coconut oil to it and let it heat.

Step 2: Once the oil is hot, add chopped onions, minced garlic, green onions, bell pepper, parsley, and cilantro. Give everything a quick stir and let it cook for about 3 minutes or until the onions turn translucent and are tender.

Step 3: Add pigeon peas, carrots, molasses, organic cane sugar, Bragg’s liquid aminos, and vegan bouillon cube. Mix well and let it cook for a minute or two.

Step 4: Add washed brown rice, bay leaf, and scotch bonnet pepper. Pour water and coconut milk and mix well.

Step 5: Let this mixture cook until it starts to boil. AT that moment, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Let it cook for about an hour or until the rice is perfectly cooked and is tender.

Step 6: Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat, fluff it up, mix everything and serve.

Add rice for the pelau recipe

Tips for making Vegan Trinidadian Brown Rice Pelau

When making this delicious pelau recipe, keep a few things in mind:

  • Make sure you rinse the rice at least three times to get rid of all the dust in it. Although it is not essential, you can soak the rice for up to an hour. This will reduce the cooking time to some extent.
  • You can quickly get canned pigeon peas from any grocery store. However, you can also use dried ones. You will just have to cook them first, which can be a long process. So, I prefer you use canned peas as they are convenient.
  • You can use coconut sugar instead of organic cane sugar as well. You can also use white granulated sugar.
  • If you don’t have Bragg’s liquid aminos, use soy sauce or tamari. It offers the same umami flavor.
  • If you find scotch bonnet pepper unbearably hot, use cayenne pepper instead.

How to store leftover Vegan Trinidadian Brown Rice Pelau?

Store the leftover pelau for up to 3 days by placing it in an airtight container and refrigerating. I don’t recommend freezing it.

Other Vegan Rice Dishes To Prepare

  1. Turmeric Coconut Rice
  2. Jamaican Rice And Peas
  3. Jamaican  Rice and Pigeon Peas ‘
  4. Jollof Rice
  5. Seasoned Rice
Trinidadian pelau rice in a white bowl on a grey background

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(Per serving)
  • Energy: 263 kcal / 1099 kJ
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Protein: 4.8 g
  • Carbs: 26 g

Cook Time

  • Preparation: 10 min
  • Cooking: 1 h 30 min
  • Ready in: 1 h 40 min
  • For: 8 servings



  1. Place a large pot over medium heat and add coconut oil
  2. Once the oil is hot, add chopped onions, minced garlic, green onions, bell pepper, parsley, and cilantro.
  3. Cook the ingredients by string frequently for about 3 minutes or until the onions are soft.
  4. Next, add pigeon peas, carrots, molasses, organic cane sugar, Bragg’s liquid aminos, and vegan bouillon cube. Mix well and let it cook for a minute or two.
  5. Add washed brown rice, bay leaf, and scotch bonnet pepper.
  6. Pour water and coconut milk and mix well.
  7. Bring this mixture to a boil. Once it starts to boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat.
  8. Let it cook for about an hour or until the rice is perfectly cooked.
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.