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+ servings
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins

This is Pilau: a fragrant one-pot rice meal. The rice is cooked in a fragrant broth loaded with spices. The aroma is out of this world! Pilau is a popular Kenyan dish conspicuously present at Kenyan parties! It is also popular in other East African countries. Get your spices, some long grain rice and let's make this East African delight!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: African, East African
Keyword: Pilau
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 355 kcal
  • 2 cups long grain rice 370g
  • 1/2 pound beef - chopped into 1 inch pieces 1/4 kg
  • 2 large onions - chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves - peeled and crushed
  • Half inch ginger root - peeled and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • Half teaspoon coriander powder
  • Half teaspoon cardamom powder
  • Half teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  1. Place butter in a pot on high heat to melt then add the chopped onions. Cook the onions in the butter while stirring from time to time until they are slightly brown (keep an eye on the onions so you do not burn them. It takes about 10 minutes for them to turn slightly brown as you stir from time to time).

  2. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions and stir for about 1 minute so the spices bloom.

  3. Add all the powdered spices and stir for about 1 minute. Add the beef then stir and let it cook until beef is brown and done. The beef will release some of its juices so I just let it cook in its own juices. However, if the liquid in your pot dries up fast then add half a cup of water and let it cook till done or just about done (it will cook further with the ice).

  4. Add 3 cups of water to the pot. Wash the rice until the water runs clear (needs about 4 washes). Add to the pot. Add the salt, black pepper, bay leave and stir. Let everything come to a boil,

  5. Once the pot comes to a boil, turn the heat to low and let it cook until the rice absorbs all the water. About 15 minutes. Turn off the heat.

  6. Let the rice rest for about 4 minutes then fluff with a fork. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

1. Other spices you could add to your Pilau include anise and cloves. You could crush them using a mortar. About half teaspoon of each of these spices will work.

2. You may have to adjust the amount of water you add depending on the kind of rice you use. I used regular long grain rice here. I find that 3 cups of water works well for 2 cups of rice. The key is to reduce your heat to low and let the rice cook slowly. If using another kind of rice, add liquid to the pot based on the cooking instructions on the packaging of the rice. Check out this post for instructions on how to get fluffy rice every time.

3. Long grain rice works best in this recipe.