Rice is certainly a main staple in Trinidad and Tobago, especially for lunch. Plain rice is a wonderful, simple pairing for stews, curries, beans and more. But, rice cooked with delicious sauces, meats, and veggies are favorites in T&T.
So, here are a couple Trinidad rice recipes to enjoy.
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Pelau is an absolute favorite in T&T. It is often a one-pot rice dish made by burning sugar before adding seasoned meat like chicken or beef. Once the meat is cooked down, vegetables, pigeon peas, parboiled rice and fresh herbs are mixed in. Coconut milk and water are added and cooked down until they are absorbed. Butter and extra fresh herbs are added to finish the dish.
Chicken pelau is the most popular type but you can make this as a vegetarian dish too. Pelau can be enjoyed by itself or with a side of coleslaw, salad, or avocado slices.
2. Fried rice
Fried rice is a favorite the world over and it’s no different here in Trinidad and Tobago. Vegetable fried rice is probably the most popular type but chicken, shrimp and egg fried rice are widely enjoyed. To make veggie fried rice, plain white rice is boiled, cooled and set aside (you can refrigerate and use the next day). Ingredients like onion, garlic, ginger, pepper, carrots, sweet peppers, and cilantro are sauteed together with sesame oil before the rice and soy sauce are added in. Oyster sauce can also be used.
My fried rice recipe on this blog is a bit different. Instead of using white rice, I use red jasmine rice. But the recipe still works for any type of rice you prefer.
3. Dhal and rice
Dhal, rice and a side are everyday favorites on the islands. Here, white rice is boiled until fully cooked and served with dhal, which is a yellow split peas dish cooked with salt, turmeric and seasoning before garlic and cumin seeds (whole geera) roasted in oil are added to the dhal.
4. Rice and peas
Rice and peas are popular throughout the Caribbean and there are so many variations to the dish. Red kidney beans, black eye peas, and pigeon peas can be used and meats like salted pig tails can also be added. Vegetarian versions involve soaking the peas first and cooking them with onion, garlic, aromatics, herbs, coconut milk and water. Once the peas are soft, the rice is added and left to absorb the liquid and fully soften.
Rice and peas work great alongside oxtail, plantains, salad and more.
5. Christmas rice
Especially enjoyed during the Christmas holidays, this Trinidad rice recipe has all the ingredients of a simple fried rice plus some cranberries or raisins, which add wonderful pops of sweetness. To make this dish, white rice is boiled until soft and set aside while onion, garlic, carrots, sweet peppers, cranberries and herbs are sauteed before the rice is mixed in.
6. Bhagi rice
Bhagi rice is a tasty side dish often made with pigtail, but can be vegetarian as well. For the pigtail version, the meat is cooked, while onion, garlic, pepper and other aromatics are sauteed separately. Chopped dasheen (taro) leaves, the cooked pigtail, white rice and coconut milk are mixed in and left to simmer until the liquid is absorbed.
7. Ochro rice
Ochro rice is made in the same way as bhagi rice. Pigtail, salt fish or smoked bones can also be used too. To make this dish, the meat options are boiled or pre-cooked while onion, garlic, pepper, ochro, veggies and other seasonings are cooked. Once the sliminess of the ochro has reduced, white rice, the meat, coconut milk and water are mixed in and boiled until the rice is cooked all the way through.
8. Carrot rice
This is another simple vegetable rice recipe. To make it, pre-cook the rice and set aside. Sauté onion, garlic, carrots and herbs for a couple minutes before adding in the cooked rice. Mix to combine and serve as a delicious side.
9. Turmeric rice
This may not be the most common Trini recipe, but it deserves a spot on this list. To make it, white rice is cooked until soft and set aside while spices like cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves are sauteed in butter. Onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric and pepper are also mixed in before the rice is added back. Topped with fresh herbs, this is a wonderful, flavorful rice dish.
10. Sweet rice
Sweet rice is sometimes called kheer or rice pudding and is especially made for East Indian celebrations. To make the dish, the rice is boiled with spices like cinnamon, clove and cardamom. Once the rice is soft, evaporated milk, condensed milk, ginger and other spices are poured in and the rice is mixed often until it thickens. The large spices are removed and served alongside channa and aloo, pumpkin talkari, mango talkari and buss-up-shut (paratha) roti.
Which are your favorite Trinidad rice recipes? Leave a comment and let me know.