How To Cook Pilau


Ever wanted to know how to cook Pilau? Well, today I will teach you how to cook some yummy pilau for you and your loved ones but first things first. What is pilau? Well, Pilau is a rice dish cooked in assorted spices. It is a specialty meal along the Indian Ocean from Asia down to Zanzibar in Africa. It is a festive dish in Kenya and you cannot miss it at any special occasion i.e. weddings, funerals, birthday parties etc.

Traditionally, pilau was cooked beef or chicken but nowadays you can make real good pilau without adding any kind of meat to it. You will only need a few spices off kitchen your shelf.

This should not however be confused with “Pilau Njeri”, a term used to refer to “fake pilau”- known to originate from certain parts of Kenya. As a matter of fact, the former is prepared by frying a mixture of rice and potatoes. In other words, this dish is not the real pilau because it does not incorporate spices required in preparing pilau.

How to Cook Pilau Recipe

Stories aside, this article will take you through every step you need to cook pilau:

INGREDIENTS. (To serve 5)

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • 2 Cups rice
  • 2 tablespoons salad oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste.
  • 3 teaspoons pilau masala
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 drops of soy sauce


  1. Wash the rice; let it soak in cold water for 30 minutes to achieve good fluffy pilau.
  2. Sauté the onions and garlic in the oil till they are golden brown.
  3. Add the peeled and chopped tomatoes, pilau masala, bay leaf, cardamom and cinnamon; let it cook for a few minutes for flavor to be absorbed.
  1. Add 3 drops of soy sauce to give your pilau a perfect brown color.
  2. Add in the rice and stir.
  3. Stir in the hot water and salt. Bring it to boil then cover the cooking pan with the aluminum foil and reduce the heat. Let it cook for approximately 10 minutes low heat before turning off the heat.
  4. Keep the rice covered to continue cooking until you are ready to serve.
  5. Serve your pilau hot with kachumbari (a blend of sliced tomatoes and onions, chopped coriander leaves and green chilies) and your favorite chicken, fish or beef stew.
  6. Garnish with parsley and chopped pineapples

Now you know how to cook pilau!

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