Pilau rice or pilaf as it is known in some parts of the world is a delicious dish that is often served at celebrations and special occasions. It is a traditional dish of India and Pakistan. Pilau is made using meat or poultry broth seasoned with spices and herbs. Rice is cooked separately before being added to the stew.
Rice is undoubtedly one of my favorite foods in the world. Not only is it my go-to dish when I’m looking to make something up quickly, but it can easily be transformed into a beautiful dish for special events. Pilau rice is a festive dish made of aromatic spices like turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and saffron. It can be cooked in coconut milk and served with curries, vegetables, meat dishes, and fish.
What are the ingredients for pilau rice or pilaf?
Pilau (pilaf) is made with a variety of ingredients depending on the type of pilau you are looking forward to making. The common ingredients for pilau rice include rice, vegetables (tomatoes, onions, potatoes, garlic, etc), spices(cardamom or iliki, cumin, black pepper, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, etc) meat (beef, lamb, mutton, fish, prawns, etc), cooking oil. Check out this comprehensive guide on the essential ingredients for pilau.
When it comes to making Swahili-style Kenyan pilau rice, long-grained basmati rice is what is preferred due to its fluffy nature when it comes to making pilau rice in the Swahili style. It is also naturally aromatic and readily takes on the flavors of both spices and broth that are added to it. Although you can use other types of rice, I highly recommend that you use long-grain basmati rice.
You can’t go wrong with homemade ground pilau masala spice (mixture of all spices required), you’ll love it! The pilau spice mix I have made at home tastes significantly better than the pilau spice mix I buy in the stores, but that is your choice, you are free to buy your spice if you prefer.
Adding whole spices is the secret to tasty pilau rice (pilaf). In addition to the ground pilau masala, I also use half a teaspoon of each of the whole spices, including cumin seeds, green cardamom pods, black peppercorns, cloves, and two cinnamon sticks.
Double the amount of whole spices, if you choose to make your own spice, and use half whole or unground. Mix the other half into the pilau masala seasoning to create the pilau masala seasoning. Swahili homes usually use only whole spices. However, I believe that combining both makes the best flavor.
Try cooking with different cooking oils to see what works best for you. There are many different oils you can use for cooking such as ghee, butter, olive oil, and sunflower oil, but as for the cooking oils, there are no restrictions, just use what you have on hand.
There are some people who swear by the fact that potatoes can be used as an optional ingredient. Some people, on the other hand, believe that it is not part of the authentic recipe. A half-cup of green peas can be used in the recipe as well.
In order to give pilau rice the lovely brown color that it has, onions are crucial to the process. Red or yellow onions can be used, but I wouldn’t recommend spring onions (scallions).
Different types of Pilau recipes
Swahili Kenyan pilau rice
This Swahili Kenyan pilau rice recipe is a must-try! The perfect combination of beef, potatoes, and spices is cooked together to make the most delicious, fluffy, and fragrant rice dish! As this recipe can be prepared ahead of time, it is convenient for meal preparation.
Fish and Coconut Pilau
For the majority of people living in coastal towns in Kenya and Tanzania, fish and coconut have always been an important part of their favorite meals. By combining these two together in the form of a glorious dish, a regular pilau is elevated into the kind of meal that deserves to be served on special occasions. Here is how to prepare Fish and Coconut Pilau.
The seafood in this pilau recipe is sure to please anyone who loves seafood. With spicy prawns cooked in a flavourful pilau, this meal is very easy to prepare and is so very tasty. Here is how to prepare Prawns pilau.
Shredded Meat & Mixed Veggies Pilau
In the Shredded Meat & Mixed Veggie Pilau recipe, we have shredded meat in an easy-to-make, finger-licking combination with vegetables to create an incredibly tasty dish for those who prefer a fuss-free meal without chunks of meat or bones in their rice. Here is how to Shredded Meat & Mixed Veggie Pilau.
A simple and flavourful coconut pilau rice recipe that pairs well with my Swahili chicken. As coconut and fish go well together, this dish is also great when served with any kind of seafood. Here is how to prepare coconut pilau.
Chicken and Veggies Pilau
The chicken and vegetable pilau recipe is a filling and healthy meal made in a matter of minutes that is loved by your entire family. This recipe can easily be altered to include or substitute the vegetables in it with whatever kind of vegetables you prefer. Here is how to prepare chicken and vegetable pilau.
Chicken and Chickpeas Pilau
This pilau is a tasty, aromatic, and nutritious dish that is best served as an accompaniment with yoghurt dip or as a side dish alongside mango pickle or kachumbari salad. Here is how to prepare Chicken and Chickpeas Pilau.
Sayyadieh (Arabic Fish Pilau)
Sayyadieh is derived from an Arabic word that means Fisherman, “Sayyaadh”. As a result, the name of the dish translates loosely to “Fisherman’s Meal”. Fresh fish is an integral part of the cooking of many people raised in coastal towns in Kenya and Tanzania. Fish pilau evokes some of our best childhood memories with its simplicity and incredible taste. Spices, onions, and fresh fish are the secret ingredients behind a good Sayyadieh. There are so many ways of making this dish, some cook the pilau with the fish in it, but I prefer cooking the pilau separately and serving it over the crispy fried fish. Here is how to prepare Sayyadieh (Arabic Fish Pilau).
Somali Pilau (Barees)
In Somali, the word barees means rice. In other words, this dish is the Somali version of the famous Pilau rice that we all know and love from many different cultures around the world. I must say that this is one of my topmost favourites out of all the ‘festive/celebratory’ meals that we have at home.
While this does require the preparation of a few different elements, the results are well worth the effort. Once the meal has come together, it is a fantastic meal that is suitable for any type of celebration. While the version here is made from chicken, the same recipe can be adapted to work with any type of meat. Here is how to prepare Somali Pilau (Barees).
In comparison to grains like rice and wheat, Quinoa is a very healthy seed alternative. In contrast to rice and wheat, quinoa is a protein, making it easier on the digestive system. Quinoa dish is completely simple to prepare as you will see in our recipe, and can either be served with an accompaniment or combined with salads, wraps, etc. It can be pimped up into this delicious, nutritious, colorful, and fragrant pilau by adding a few extra spices. Here is how to prepare Quinoa pilau.
In terms of this pilau recipe, I consider it to be a sort of fried rice dish from the Indian subcontinent. It is a very flavorsome and famous Mumbai street food that can be made in a few minutes. The best thing about this recipe is that it uses leftover cooked plain rice to prepare a really delicious new meal, and it is so simple to make. Here is how to prepare a tawa pilau.