Pilau Rice Recipe-Guest Post by Jemimah

Every time the smell of sauteed onions and beef browned in mixed species (cumin, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger) and later rice in a rich broth graced our home growing up, it was a special day!!!. Either a Sunday, birthday, special holiday or we were having visitors over for lunch. And every time someone different was preparing pilau the method always varied and of course tasted different.

I have always thought this dish was originally Kenyan because I had a cousin that was good with spices and she lived in Mombasa. Lately I learnt it was originally Persian, and somehow made its way to East Africa through the Arabs who migrated there. The origin doesn’t matter, the dish is great, and because it can also have a vegetarian side, that even makes it better.

If any of my sisters, cousins, aunt or mother were to write this same recipe, I guarantee you, it would be different. This is my simple and easy vegetarian version.

Serves 4-5
Recipe level: Easy
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Meal type: Main course
Meal time: Lunch or Dinner
Country/Region: Persian, East African


  • 3 teaspoons of pilau masala (mixed ground spices)
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder (1 clove of fresh garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger powder (1 tsp of freshly ground ginger)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 medium sized onion chopped or diced
  • 4 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • 4 cups of water
  • Mixed vegetables (if desired)


  1. Put the oil in pot
  2. Add the onions, stir till brown
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and pilau masala stir for a while
  4. Add the washed rice and turn till every grain is colored with species and covered with oil
  5. Add the salt to taste
  6. Add the water and simmer till the water dries on medium heat


  • For the beef lovers, beef can be added as the onions are getting brown, cook the beef till it turns brown.
  • This rice can be served with vegetables or a stew.
  • Using fresh garlic and ginger give it an even better flavor.
  • Pilau masala is a mixture of ground cumin seeds, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamoms and cloves.


Jemmy writes: “I don’t cook often but I love to try new recipes, making some changes in them and seeing the effect on the dish. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I eat with my eyes first, flavored and tasty food are everything to me”

4 thoughts on “Pilau Rice Recipe-Guest Post by Jemimah

    1. Tay, you know where to find them; and don’t forget to bring that tasty chicken you made the other day in exchange for the pilau spices;)

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