East African Pilau

Rice pilau is a traditional East African dish that has a hearty, well-rounded flavour profile that can be enjoyed by many different palates. With fragrant, aromatic spices and rich pieces of tender beef, we're sure this dish will impress!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine East African, Kenyan
Servings 6 people
Calories 550 kcal


  • Coffee grinder or food processor


Spice Mix

  • 1 tsp Cloves
  • 2 tbsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 tbsp Coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp Black Peppercorns
  • 12 Cardamom Pods

Rice Pilau

  • 2 cups Basmati Rice
  • 5 Potatoes peeled and cut into quarters
  • ¼ cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Red Onions thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves Garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp Ginger minced
  • 1 Serrano Chile finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Pilau Spice Mix
  • 2 Beef Stock Cubes
  • ¼ cup Cilantro fresh, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb Beef Sirloin cubed
  • 3 Tomatoes diced
  • 4 cups Water
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • Salt to taste


For the spice mix:

  • Add cloves, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, peppercorns, and cardamom in a dry pan.
  • Roast over low heat until fragrant and warmed through. Finely grind.*

For the rice pilau:

  • Heat oil in a large, deep pot on medium-high heat.
  • Add the onions and cook until they turn golden brown, but not burnt!
  • Add the garlic, ginger, and serrano pepper, and sauté until fragrant, typically 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the spice mix, beef stock, beef, cilantro, bay leaves, and salt. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the meat is caramelized.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook until they've released their liquid, generally another 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the water and potatoes, and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in rice, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
  • Once all liquid is absorbed, fluff with a fork, and serve immediately!


*This will make far more spice mix than you will need for this recipe. Store the remainder in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. 
Keyword Beef, Kenyan, Pilau, Rice


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