The best thing about rice is that you can never run out of variations of how to cook it, and pilau is one of the ways. In fact, what I look forward to the most in Kenyan weddings is pilau. I mean, what’s better than the combination of beautifully tasting spices in the right proportions mixed with rice?
Pilau, also known as pilaf, dates back to Indian origins; probably an import that has been adapted for East African kitchens. Pilau Rice is intensely flavoured rice, somewhat of a celebratory dish, that is cooked throughout East African Countries or countries situated along the Swahili region in Africa.
Here are 5 pilau recipes that you need to try out. These recipes use fresh ingredients but you can use pilau masala powder or pilau mix instead of some of the spices if you do not have time to use fresh ingredients. These are the spices in pilau masala – cloves, black peppercorn, cardamom, cinnamon and cumin.
- Beef Pilau
This is one of the most common types of pilau. It is mixed with beef to create the perfect blend of tastes. While this recipe may be time-consuming, the results are promising.
This beef pilau recipe serves 6 people.
- 500g beef
- 400 g of rice (or 3 cups), washed and soaked
- ½ teaspoon- of turmeric root
- ½ teaspoon- of crushed cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon- of ground garlic
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon- Ground black peppercorns
- 2 diced onions
- Chopped dhania
- 3 tomatoes
- Vegetable cooking oil
- 3 tomatoes
14. 2 teaspoons cinnamon bark
15. 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
16. 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- In a cooking pot, fry onions until cooked.
- Add in all your spices and allow it to cook for 2-3 mins.
- Add meat and let cook.
- Pour in the rice and stir to combine the meat with the rice.
- Add 1 ¾ cups water and bring to a boil over high heat with the cooking pot uncovered.
- Once the water level has gone down, lower the heat, cover with foil paper or brown kitchen paper and cook for a further 2-3 mins or until the water has dried up. You can also put it in the oven for a few minutes instead.
- Turn off your heat and serve the pilau hot.
2. Chicken Pilau
This pilau recipe is similar to that of the beef pilau, only that we use chicken instead, and thus it is prepared differently. If you prefer chicken to beef, then you might want to try this one out.
This chicken pilau recipe serves 4 people.
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 sliced red onion
- ½ teaspoon- crushed cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon- of ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon- crushed cinnamon bark
- ¼ teaspoon- of cardamom seeds
- 2 chopped garlic cloves
- 3 diced chicken drumsticks (without the bone and the skin)
- 2 cups of uncooked rice, rinsed and soaked
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a sufuria over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions to the pan and cook, until they are lightly browned.
- Add the cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, and garlic to the pan and stir to combine.
- Season your chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken in the onions and spices, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
- Add rice to the pan, and stir to combine.
- Add salt and water
- Cover the sufuria with a lid and reduce heat.
- Let it cook for 20-30 minutes
- Serve hot.
- Pilau Njeri
This form of pilau was given its name because it’s a slight variation of the original recipe. It’s a simple recipe with much fewer spices. It’s also a great alternative for vegetarians since it has no meat or meat products in it.
This Njeri pilau recipe serves 4 people.
- 2 cups of rice
- 1 cup of assorted veg
- 2 sliced onions
- 1 diced tomato
- 5 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup garden peas
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 1 3/4 cup of water
- Heat 4 tablespoons of oil.
- Add onions and fry for 7-10 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and fry further until cooked and soft, add the assorted vegetables and 2 pinches of salt.
- Add the peas and potatoes and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the washed rice and stir evenly before adding the butternut.
- Add water and cover to cook for 30 min.
- Serve hot.
- Coconut Pilau Rice
For coconut lovers, this coconut pilau rice is the one for you. This recipe adds coconut to the rice to bring out the flavour.
This coconut pilau recipe serves 6 people.
- 3 cups of rice
- 2 cups of coconut milk
- 2 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons of margarine
- 3 diced onions
- 3 potatoes
- 1 tablespoon of crushed cumin seeds
- ½ tablespoon of crushed black peppercorn
- 2 cinnamon
- 2 cardamom
- 1 tablespoon ground garlic
- ½ tablespoon turmeric root
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- Salt to taste
- Chopped coriander for garnishing
- Wash, rinse out and then soak your rice.
- Add the oil and margarine to a pan.
- Once heated add cumin seeds, black pepper, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom.
- Add the chopped onions and fry until golden.
- Next, add the garlic and powdered spices.
- Stir until everything is mixed and well-coated. Then add the coconut milk and water.
- Add salt and stir.
- Drain the soaked rice and add it in.
- Allow it to simmer a bit. Then turn the heat down to medium and give everything an occasional stir.
- Allow to steam on very low heat for about 15 minutes.
- Switch off and serve.
- Goat pilau with potatoes
The thing about pilau recipes and cooking, in general, is that you can always vary your recipe to your liking. So if you prefer goat meat, then here’s a recipe that you will love.
This goat pilau recipe serves 6 people
- 1/2 kg of goat meat
- 1/2 kg of rice (about 3 cups)
- 4 big potatoes
- 8 cloves of garlic, ground
- 3 onions, diced
- 5 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons crushed cumin seeds
9. 2 teaspoons crushed cinnamon bark
10. 1 teaspoon cardamon seeds
11. 1/4 teaspoon cloves
12. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Cut the meat into chunks and bring them to a boil until soft.
- Peel potatoes and cut them into four pieces each.
- Chop onions, peel and crush the garlic cloves.
- wash your rice and soak it in water.
- Place a sufuria on medium heat then pour in the cooking oil.
- Once it’s hot add chopped onions and fry until they turn brown.
- Add the garlic and cook.
- Add in the pre-boiled meat and mix well. Add in the potatoes and mix again.
- Add water and let it simmer for about five minutes.
- Add in the rest of your spices and let them fry for 2 minutes then add in the cold water.
- Once the water boils add in the rice and stir so that it’s evenly distributed.
- Cover this and let it cook on medium heat.
- Continue cooking covered until the mixture is completely dry.
- Switch off the heat and leave the food undisturbed and covered for 15 min.
- Serve hot.
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