One of the blessings of being married to someone from a different culture is the new foods you get to try and then learn to make. Pilau is a Kenyan favorite and made during special occasions or holidays. It is a hearty dish made with meat and rice, sometimes potatoes are added to make it stretch further. The rice used is basmati which is soaked prior to cooking, this prevents the rice from sticking.
The meat is perfectly cooked in a mixture of spices called Pilau masala. You can buy pre-made Pilau masala in Kenya but it isn’t readily available in stores from what I have seen. However, the spices used are the same used in Indian cooking so this recipe will tell you have to make the masala as well.
Preparation Time – 20 Minutes
Cook Time – 1 1/2 Hours
Goat/ Beef – 2 lbs, bone in and cut into one inch pieces
Potatoes – 3, cut approximately the same size as the meat
Basmati Rice – 3 Cups, washed, soaked for 15 minutes and drained
Water – 5 1/2 cups
Onions – 2, chopped
Garlic – 6 cloves, minced
Ginger – 3 tablespoons, minced
Green Chili – 4, chopped finely
Ghee – 1/3 cup
Salt – 3 1/2 Teaspoons or as to Taste
For the Masala:
Bay leaves – 4
Cinnamon – 4 inches
Cardamom – 10
Fenugreek – 1/8 Teaspoon
Cumin – 2 Teaspoons
Pepper – 1 Teaspoon
Coriander seeds – 2 Tablespoons
Star Anise – 2
Cloves – 6
Turmeric – 1 Teaspoon
Cashews – 1/4 Cup
Raisins – 3 Tablespoons
Ghee – 2 Tablespoons
The first step is to make the Pilau Masala. Put all the masala ingredients in a coffee grinder or spice grinder, reduce to a fine powder.
In a large pot, heat the ghee and fry the onions, a 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt, garlic and ginger till golden brown. Then add your masala and fry till you smell the aroma, about 30 seconds.
Next add the tomatoes and green chillies. Cook down till the tomatoes disintigerate and the ghee starts to seperate.
Add the goat meat and another teaspoon of salt. Cook for about 45 minutes or till the meat is tender.
Now add the potatoes and cilantro mix well. Cook for about 7 minutes, we want it to be partially cooked but not all the way.
Add the rice, water and rest of the salt. You may need to add more salt now, so when you taste the water it should taste slightly salty but not very salty. This way when the rice and the potatoes are cooked the salt will be absorbed and the dish will be well seasoned. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 8 minutes. Then shut the heat off, remove from the burner and let it continue to cook in the residual heat. Wait about 10 to 15 minutes before you open and then gently mix the rice and the veggies.
To make the garnish heat the ghee in a saucepan and fry the cashews till golden and then add the raisins and fry for a minute or so. Spread the garnish on top the rice before serving. This is an optional step.
We served this with Kachumbari which is similar to a pico de gallo. Generally people don’t tend to add this much heat/chillies to the dish but we like ours with a bit of spice.
The masala for this dish is where the taste might change from family to family but the directions are generally the same. Majority of the time this is made with goat or beef but I assume you could try chicken too, just reduce the cooking time to about 20 minutes or till done. So if you are looking for a challenge and a new dish to add to your meals, try this pilau out!
Things you may need to make this recipe: