Pilau – Pilaf

Beef Pilau

Pilau is a specialty along the Swahili Coast in which Rice is flavored with spices and cooked in a well seasoned broth of Meat, Poultry or Fish. It is also a festive Dish which never misses at every special occasion.

Pilau spices
Pilau spices


1/2 kg Basmati rice, washed (for better results I highly recommend Basmati reis)
1/2 kg potatoes – peeled, washed and coarsely chopped
1/2 kg beef, chicken or fish filet – cubed
1 small cup sunflower oil (or any other liquid oil)
4 cups of hot water or broth
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves of Garlic, crushed
1 fresh Ginger, crushed
2 fresh Tomatoes , sliced
2-3 teaspoon Pilau spices
Salt and pepper to taste


Boil beef or chicken with ginger for 10 minutes. Add potatoes and let them boil for 5 minutes then set aside (separate the cooked ingredients from the broth so you can use it later)
Heat oil and fry onions till light brown, add garlic and Pilau spices and on a low heat, fry for 1 minute
Add tomatoes meat/chicken with potatoes and cook till tender
Add rice and ensure to mix everything very well before adding your broth or hot water then stir the mixture very well
Add salt and pepper to taste then cover the pot and cook on medium heat
When the Food is nearly dry, lower down the heat to very low, cover your Pilau with aluminium paper (please avoid newspapers or polythene papers) and place the lid on top. Leave to cook for 10 minutes .
*Here you are, your Pilau is ready!

Serve your Pilau hot with Kachumbari and Pilipili ya Maembe

A banana can also be used for garnishing

*Some like to serve it with a tasty tomato sauce or beef/chicken stew on the side which is also very nice….

50 thoughts on “Pilau – Pilaf

  1. kindly assist send me all recipes through my mail or can i get a booklet that contains all kenyan recipes.

    1. admin

      Hello dear Jackline,
      Thank you for visiting my Blog about All Kenyan Food and Recipes!
      For more Recipes please subscribe to my page with your email address.
      Am currently working on a Kenyan Cook Book with all the recipes.
      Enjoy your cooking!
      Best Regards…

  2. I live in the U.S. so I don’t have access to pilau spice mixture. What spices are used in pilau so I can make it at home?

    1. admin

      Hi Rachel, Pilau Whole spices are; Cinnamon, Cardamon, Cloves, whole pepper and Cumin seeds! You can use a Pestle and Mortar or spice Grinder to grind them to powder like! Enjoy Cooking and Chakula Chema, best Regards….

  3. Is their anywhere online that I can buy the spice mix ? Or would I have to make it myself ? I also live in the U.S.

    1. admin

      Hey Elija,
      Nice to have you here! you can use normal regular white Rice, the Basmati Rice just happens to give you the best results…
      Check any Indian food stores, sometimes they have the pilau spices or Amazon!
      Warm Regards….

  4. Hello admin. Could you please provide us with procedures for preparing various types of fruit juice without having to use a blender…. and hey, thanks for your awesome work. Big up!!

  5. Hi,
    I am not Kenyan although I my Fiance is from Kenya. We both live and work in Dubai and since he loves Kenyan food, I decided to make him Pilau (it’s one of my favourites as well). I followed your recipe and I must say that it turned out extremely well to the point where I am requested to cook it almost every weekend. He really enjoys the pilau I make and all thanks to you. The instructions are so easy to follow and I am glad to have hit upon your blog.
    I will be cooking more recipes from here.
    Thank you and continue what you are doing.

    1. admin

      Hello Kim,
      Nice to read your comment!
      Am very glad to hear the Pilau turned out very well especially for the first time and considering the fact that you are not Kenyan! Pilau is one Dish you can never get enough of, I think it is because of the spices used! Stay tuned for more recipes.
      Enjoy cooking the Kenyan foods.
      Best Regards

    1. admin

      Hello Maureen,
      Unfortunately I had to because someone in Kenya was printing them and almost created a Book without my knowledge 🙁 He even has an APP with my recipes and Photos :-(! Talk of people without respect of others work!
      End of this week, I’ll publish an e-book with more than 30 best recipes. Hope you can still enjoy cooking form the Blog.
      Best Regards

  6. Hi Admin,

    I love your blog.

    Are you able to make a 7 day meal plan for dinner of course considering all the food values. i.e carbs, protein, starch? Am a busy busy mom but love good healthy food!

    1. admin

      Hello Cess
      Welcome and thank you for dropping by! At the moment I can’t am sorry 🙁

  7. Am so very grateful for this blog.
    In the case you are using whole pilau spices,what is the ratio for the spices.

    1. admin

      Hello Angeline,
      Most Welcome!
      For 1kg rice, I use 1 Tablespoon of whole spices..
      Happy Cooking.

    1. admin

      Hello Zipporah,
      The Book is on the publishing process! by tomorrow, latest end of the week you will have your copy!
      Happy Cookings!

  8. Hi, I’d like to know what specifically the pilau spices consists of and where to get them since the regular pilau masala in our stores doesn’t give the taste of the pilau served by the Swahilis. Thanks.

    1. admin

      Hello Lilian,
      Pilau whole spices are; Cinnamon sticks,cardamom pods, cloves, black whole pepper and cumin.
      Enjoy cooking.

    1. admin

      Hello Njoki.
      Please click on the E-book on the right hand side of the home page. You’ll get a link to follow and in a few steps, you should have it!
      Happy Cooking..

  9. hi, l love cooking at home as l am a flexible mum ,l shall follow all your recipes to the end,good work,kudos

    1. admin

      Hello Nkatha,
      Am humbled by your sincere comment! Thank you and welcome on board.
      Happy Cooking!

  10. Its christmass and was trying to look for a pilau recipe,apparently am not able to cook it at 19 and in Kenya??.It must be said i am really greatful to the content and am going to follow through since i need to learn cooking soon!Its kind of a necessity.Anyways great festivities.Thanks again!

  11. mine is not a question but rather a comment . i want to applaud the blogger for having a really codial relationship with his/her readers and I happen to be one of them. your recipes have been of essence to me and I’d like to say thank you and keep up the good work

  12. Hi Admin,i was looking for Samosa recipes and i stumbled on your blog. Simply put..I love it… the blog, the pictures and how well you explain the steps. Good Job. This blog is actually making me smile when i see delicious looking food. 🙂 Keep working on it,Kudos.

    1. admin

      Hello Betty,

      Thank you very much for your kind words.
      Comments from readers like you do really motivate me 😉

  13. Hello! Thank you for the recipe.
    Reading the comments, it looks like it is a hit so I will be trying it. My husband is Kenyan and I just bought some Tropical Heat Pilau spices .
    You mentioned your blog and a recipe book, how can I get to your blog and also get the recipe book?

  14. is your recipe book out? if yes, where can i buy it? am in kitale transnzoia county. mobile 0721887259

    1. admin

      Hello Eve, thank you.
      I’ll do that. please subscribe with your email address for notification.
      Happy Cooking.

    1. admin

      Hello Ruth,
      Which spices don’t you you understand? write me and i’ll translate them for you in Kiswahili.
      Happy Cooking!

  15. Hi i was tryn to find a recipe for making a samosa dough n hia i am..i love ur recipes they r so easy to follow..am recently married n now i hv a son n i would like soo much to b the perfect wife n mother..i am soo excited to start tryn out ur recipes..tomorrow is my hubby’s bday n i plan on cooking him pilau n sm chicken i will follow up ur recipes n i hop it turns out great..i wuld also love to have a fish recipe..thanks soo much n i hop to see more.

  16. Hi, I was looking at the pilau reciepe and wondering for the spices is it possible to use the powder ones.
    Also, what would be the ratio for each supposing your cooking two cups of rice,

    1. admin

      Hello Wambui,
      Yes you can use the powder pilau spice.
      I would recommend 2 tablespoons for 2 cups of rice.
      Happy Cooking.

  17. Hii admin,
    Thank you for the pilau recipe, I will one of this fine days. can you sent me all your Kenyan food recipe including the best mandazis small in size and how to make natural juice?
    best regards.

    1. admin

      Hello Emily,

      It’s my pleasure to share with you!
      Please subscribe with your email address for notifications and new recipe updates.

      Best regards back and Happy cooking.

  18. Hi, thanks for all the wonderful recipes. where can I get the spices in Nairobi? I have also seen basil used in some of your recipes, where can i buy in Nairobi?

    1. admin

      Hello Mohammed,
      You are welcome. I think you can buy the spices and basil in any local supermarket in Nairobi.

      Happy Cooking!

  19. Hi Admin, This is very helpful and God Bless you for this. I will subscribe to get the handbook if available.

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