Every East African that I have met loves pilau. The non Kenyans too, that have had the privilege of having some, say that they love it. It is also one of those recipes that vary from home to home, and from country to country within East Africa. Pilau is one of my favorite traditional meals, and so I have found what tastes best and leaves my family wanting more.The secret ingredient is always love. Oh, and ghee too!


  1. Chopped onions (2 bulbs)
  2. Garlic and ginger paste ( 2 tbsp)
  3. Already chopped and boiled beef steak ( 2 cups)
  4. Soy sauce (2 tbsps)
  5. Tomato paste (2 tbsps)
  6. Cilantro (1/2 cup)
  7. Basmati rice (4 cups)
  8. Beef broth (4 cups)
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Ghee (4 tbsps)
  11. Pilau (powder) spices (1 tbsp each) {Cinnamon, cardamon, cumin, cloves, coriander, black pepper, garam masala and pilau masala)

Tip: Using individual spices ensures that each pilau spice ingredient is well incorporated and its flavor maintains its presence.


  • Wash the rice to remove all the white (starch) then leave it to soak in lukewarm water for 20 minutes.
  • In a big pot, add 2 table spoons of ghee and the garlic and ginger paste. Sweat these out for a few minutes then add the meat and soy sauce.
  • Once the meat is well coated, add the onions and keep frying until they become golden brown in color.
  • Add all the spices, salt and tomato paste then stir as you slightly reduce your heat. Put a bit of water and let them cook for about 5 minutes or until you achieve a thick paste. (Keep adding some water if the spices start sticking to the bottom of the pot.)
  • Set your fire to medium heat, gently stir in your rice and the rest of the ghee and pour in the broth.
  • Cover the pot and leave to cook for about 20 minutes, or until all the broth is gone. Switch off the fire, but cover and let the pot sit there for another 10 minutes before serving.
  • Top with cilantro and serve with some stew or kachumbari (salsa/guacamole) and enjoy!

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