Pilau is a festive and celebratory dish of Eastern Africa. Prepared with either beef or chicken, the dish has tons of seasoning. This rice dish is unlike its’ sister Indian pilau since it lacks curry powder making it less spicy.
The origins of pilau are rooted in Swahili culture. There is debate on weather pilau originated in the Middle East or Africa. However, with further research Indians/Middle Easterners likely brought this dish to Africa and it was then adapted by the locals with what ingredients were more readily available.
This stew-like meal was easy to follow along. I think I should have cooked the liquids down more to dry out the rice as it was intended. The aroma of the spices roasting in the skillet was very enticing.
We thought this meal had an awesome spice profile with cardamom being the stand out. There was a little more moisture (sorry to anyone who hates the word) than anticipated, but at least the meat was tender! 😅 We rated this Kenyan meal 8.5/10
Spice Mix (Pilau Masala)
- 1 tsp clove
- 2 tbsp cumin seed or 2 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tbsp black peppercorn seeds
- 12 cardamom pods or 2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 5 potatoes cubed
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 red onions thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp ginger minced
- 1 hot pepper finely chopped (I used jalapeno)
- 1 tbsp pilau masala
- 2 beef stock cubes see below
- 4 cups water or beef stock
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped
- 1lb beef sirloin cubed
- 3 roma tomatoes diced
- 2 bay leaves
- salt to taste
- Combine whole ingredients if using and place in pan on low heat. Allow to roast until fragrant.
- Place all ingredients in a grinder and combine. You will likely have leftover seasoning- you may save this in an airtight container.
- Heat a stock pot on medium-high heat. Add oil and allow to heat. Add onions and fry making sure to brown, but not burn them. This can take 10-15 minutes
- Add in pepper, ginger, and garlic allowing to cook until fragrant. Then add beef, spice blend, beef stock cubes (if using), cilantro, bay, and salt. Mix well and cook until beef caramelizes. Make sure to stir often, cook 8-10 minutes.
- Add in tomatoes and cook until their liquid has been released, about 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in potatoes and water (or broth) bringing mixture to a boil. Stir in rice and cover reducing heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
- Mix all ingredients well and serve!