Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Dimanche Gras Beef Pelau

Hey y’all, it’s Carnival Sunday here in T&T and I am feeling pleasantly tired after making one of our most famous dishes, a tasty beef pelau that my Granny used to call the Dimanche Gras pelau. Why? Well, she would cook this kind of pelau only on Carnival Sunday, and we always had a bowl of it while we sat in front of the TV to watch the Dimanche Gras show, which is where the calypso finalists and the individual costumed Kings and Queens of Carnival Bands would compete for their titles of Calypso Monarch and King and Queen of Carnival, respectively.  

Today I decided to opt for a nice beef pelau instead of chicken, simply because I didn’t want to deal with any bones. Hopefully, I'll have enough of this to last us over Carnival Monday and Carnival Tuesday. I must admit, I really had a good time in the kitchen (dancing to some good soca music on the radio from JW and Blaze, Machel Montano and Kerwin Du Bois – just thought I’d throw that in there!). What saved me was doing most of my prep from early Saturday night (starting with the beef), so you know that the seasonings are going to be in there good and proper when you take a bite.

Want to see how it all went down? Well, the night before…

I got roughly 1 ½ lbs of beef and washed it well with some lime juice. Started up the seasoning party just like my Granny used to, with a good 2 capfuls of white rum and some apple cider vinegar. 

Now every time I make this, the seasonings are dictated by what I’ve got in the fridge at the time, hahahaa! This time I minced up 2 cloves of garlic, 3 stalks chive and half a medium red onion. I also added a spoonful of the home seasoning, minced up a little bunch of dill, and cut up 2 small tomatoes. Lastly, I crushed up a couple of tomato chicken boullion cubes and added in some red pepper flakes. Mixed everything together and it went into the fridge to sit and marinate overnight.

Here’s the seasoned beef, straight out the fridge, ready to enter the fete. But first…

I had to organize the other contestants, namely the 4 cups of rice that I washed three times and put to soak in some water. I put a little boiled water on top so it would swell and get fluffy – see, it hit the 6 cup mark.
As you can see, the corn, pigeon peas, diced carrots and green peas were waiting in the wings. My next step was to separate the beef from its marinade so I could brown it up.  

Prepared ½ cup of vegetable oil and ¼ cup of brown sugar to start the browning process. As soon as it got nice and foamy, in went the beef with that SCHWAAAAAH sound we all know! As soon as they browned up, I transferred the pieces to the waiting pressure cooker. 

Poured in 2 cups of water, locked it down and cooked them under pressure for 15 minutes.

Time’s up, and the beef is nice and soft. So I poured everything (including the liquid) back into the same pot they were browning in originally and let the liquid reduce and get a little thicker in readiness for the rice.

(Of course, I couldn’t forget those delicious seasonings now… in they went with the beef!)

Now for the rice. Strained it off and added it to the beef and stirred it well so the sauce would coat it. I found the colour of the rice grains were still too light, so I helped it along with some bottled browning – about a potspoonful went in. (See how the colour changed?)

Here's the fun part… added the diced carrots first, and let them cook for a couple of minutes before adding in the pigeon peas, my special spice mix of nutmeg, a Maggi Ginger seasoning packet and dried parsley and the canned corn.

Aaah, we’re getting closer! In went 3 cups of coconut milk (made from 2 packets of coconut milk powder), a good dash of Angostura bitters and 1 cup of frozen peas.

The last step (and ingredient) to the pelau? I sank a hot pepper in the middle of the pot.

Covered up the pot and cooked it for just 15 minutes until the liquid evaporated.

As we say in Trinidad and Tobago, “Pot Done!”

A delicious Beef Pelau for you!

So there it is, my special Dimanche Gras pelau. Taking a much needed rest until the Dimanche Gras show, where I hope to be sitting in my chair with a bowl of pelau and a glass of juice, cheering on my choices for Calypso Monarch. If you wish to have the complete recipe, drop me a line at and I will only be too happy to share it with you.

Enjoy the rest of the Carnival season my friends, and please be safe. Until my next kitchen adventure, take care of yourselves and like I love to tell you, don’t forget to mind the pot!


  1. This is the most different way to cook pelau that I've ever seen.

    End result lookin good, This different.

  2. I know, lol! But it's how we did things here at home. I know some people add the peas and stuff to the meat first, or use water and other seasonings, but Granny had an unusual way of doing things, and it's all I know. Corn and frozen peas aren't usual things in a classic pelau either, but this one got 'dressed up' for the occasion. Plus, the taste is really boss! :^)