Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rice it Up!

Greetings everyone! I know it seemed like I had dropped off the radar (and yes, I admit it). Truth is I’ve been extremely busy with the 9 to 5 and other things, which left me little time to really relax and play in my favourite room in the house – my kitchen. She looks a little neglected these days, especially since I haven’t been making anything in there other than cups of tea and cheese sandwiches. (Not even some cheese paste self? Lawdie!)

Thankfully, it’s the month end, and I am in the process of restocking the faithful food bins. Now you know there are some food items that always make a True Trini’s grocery list each month, and these are canned pigeon peas and parboiled rice, that latter of which I buy in bulk. Seeing that I was down to my last couple cans of peas, I was inspired to end the month with a bang and do one of my daughter’s favourites, a vegetarian styled pelau made with coconut milk. An old school prep would have seen me getting a dried brown coconut, grating it and squeezing the water from the solids. But, time doesn’t always allow for the old methods from long time days. Thank goodness for coconut milk powder, yes!

Today’s dish stars some delicious fresh pumpkin, carrots and pigeon peas… vegetarians rejoice!

To prep, I started by washing my rice three times and letting it soak for a while to soften the grains, which is something I always saw my grandmother do.

Next, I opened my two cans of pigeon peas and drained the liquid from them. Then it was off to the pumpkin, which I peeled and chopped in a large dice and the carrots, which I just sliced because they were really thin.
The last step was to prepare the coconut milk powder (about a pack and a half), by dissolving it in some warm water. (Much easier than grating and squeezing!)

Flame on, pot down, oil and sugar in. I used soya oil; about ½ cup was heated up with a quarter cup of brown sugar. When browning sugar, it goes through these four stages of crystals, lumps, ‘goo’ and finally, foam.  Just keep your eye on the sugar as it cooks… remember, this is culinary napalm and it will HURT if it touches you! (Stand by with your dish of pigeon peas as soon as it hits stage four.)

Once the foam started to go dark, in went the peas. As soon as they hit the burnt sugar, I stirred them like a madwoman until the sugar ‘relaxed’ and stopped sticking to the spatula.

Strained off the rice and tumbled it into the browned pigeon peas and gave it a good stir so the grains could absorb some of that brown color. Next, I added in some of my special home blend green seasoning – which I promise to recreate for the blog soon – and a little bit of bottled browning to help get the rice a bit darker.
Out came the vegetables to join the party. Started with the most firm one (carrots) and I let them heat up for a minute or two. Then I added the pumpkin and followed that with a packet of Maggi seasoning powder and gave it a stir. A tablespoon more of home blend seasoning went in before I added that wonderful coconut milk. (Wish you could have smelled this!)
(By the way, this particular packet of seasoning powder is a vegetarian blend... the mix contains no traces of animal products, but it was designed with that special hit of ginger for pork lovers.)
At this point, the liquid was enough to cover the rice in the pot. Here is where you get your seasonings in order, and I added a couple dashes of Angostura bitters, a pinch of ground nutmeg and a crushed Maggi vegetable cube. Gave the liquid a taste… yup, definitely there.
I then remembered I had a remainder of canned corn in the freezer, which went straight to the pot – no need to thaw. Lastly, a whole yellow habanero pepper joined the fete, and everything  bubbled up nicely. I then lowered the flame to bring everything to a simmer and let it cook covered for about 15 to 20 minutes.

When I checked that pot afterward, I was greeted with this lovely sight…
Veggie pelau (my daughter grabbed the first serving as usual, hahahaa!).

And there you have it, a nice flavourful vegetable pelau. The best thing about this is you can make it to suit your taste. Change the vegetables around and add some butternut squash, peas and carrots, even bodi (which my Granny served up once). For another flavour spin, you can even add a dried bay leaf just as you put in the habanero, which you can remove as soon as it’s done. If you’d like the full recipe, just send a message to

Till next time my friends, and I promise lots more fun recipes to come.

(Don’t forget to mind the pot.)   :-)


  1. I just made this dish, omg words cannot describe how yummyyyyyyy it was

  2. Hi Agie, I'm so happy you enjoyed making it! Thanks so much for trying it out and be sure to look out for new dishes from me from time to time, okay? Take care and much love. :-)