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Kenyan Beef and Potato Pilau

East African Pilau

East African Pilau is a traditional, beautiful fragrant rice dish made with many aromatic spices that adds an amazing depth of flavor to the rice. It can be made with either beef or chicken.
Course Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine African
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 550kcal



  • 1 Tsp Cloves
  • 2 tbsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 Stick cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tbsp black peppercorn seeds
  • 12 pods Cardamon


  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 5 potatoes medium - peeled and cut into quarters
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Red onions medium - thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons ginger minced
  • 1 serrano chile finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon pilau masala
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1 lb beef sirloin cubed
  • 3 Roma tomatoes diced
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Salt to taste



  • Place the cumin, coriander, black peppers, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves in a dry pan.
  • Roast over low heat until warmed through and fragrant and blend (I used a coffee grinder) until smooth.
  • You need just 1 to 11/2 tablespoons for this recipe (depending on how fragrant you want the rice to be). Feel free to store the leftover spice powder in an airtight container for up to 3 months, or refrigerate for up to 6 months.


  • Heat a stockpot on medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until hot but not smoking.
  • Add the sliced onions and fry for 10-15 minutes or till the onions starts to turn golden brown (be careful not to burn it).
  • Add the garlic, ginger, serrano pepper, Cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
  • Add the cubed beef, pilau masala, beef stock cubes, bay leaves, cilantro, and salt to taste. Cook until the meat browns and caramelizes stirring occasionally about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the tomatoes have released their liquid.
  • Stir in the potatoes and the water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the rice, and cover tightly with a foil paper (to keep the steam in) if necessary. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, until the rice is cooked and the liquid is absorbed.
  • Once the rice is dry, remove the foil paper and fluff with a fork to ensure the seasonings are well distributed all around the rice.
  • Serve hot with fresh Kachumbari – salsa. Enjoy!



  • I used beef in this recipe, but chicken or any other type of meat can also be used.
  • I used basmati rice which takes about 20 minutes to cook however, your cooking time may vary depending on the type of rice you use.
  • For even cooking, I seal my pot with aluminum foil during the cooking process so as to have well-separated rice grains after cooking.
  • It’s also best to cook on low heat.
  • I love to use freshly ground spices that’s why I choose to grind my spices myself it imparts so much flavor!


Calories: 550kcal | Carbohydrates: 82g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 402mg | Potassium: 1291mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 338IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 148mg | Iron: 10mg