This beef pilau rice is a mouth-watering rice dish cooked in broth and seasoned with oriental spices.  The spices include cardamom, cinnamon, star anise and cloves to mention but a few. Depending on the Pilau recipe, it may contain fish, chicken, vegetables, and even dried fruits like raisins.  If you have never heard of pilau rice, come closer…let me show you some but before that, here’s a little background.


Pilau rice originates from Persia, but it’s popular in so many other races like the Arabs, Greeks, Turks, Afghans, and Indians.  This delicacy has been a staple on the Kenyan tables for a very long time, and we serve it on special occasions and weddings.



beef pilau rice



Traditionally, we use long grain rice to make beef pilau rice or any version of pilau rice.  There is a brand of rice in Kenya called “Pishori rice,” and that is what we always use.  But basmati rice works perfectly too. You can also go for jasmine rice.


Now, there are a few secrets to having the perfect beef pilau rice.  First of all, you want to make sure that you wash your rice thoroughly until the water runs clear. Rinsing the rice will get rid of the starch in the rice resulting in fluffiest beef pilau rice.

Furthermore, soak the rice for about 30 minutes in lightly salted water.  Adding salt to the soaking water serves the same purpose as washing the rice thoroughly. Consequently, you won’t end up with sticky beef pilau rice.

Thirdly, adding the right amount of water is critical.  You can follow all the steps above, but if you add a lot of water, you will still end up with soggy rice.  Always remember that rice is best steamed in a bit of water and not cooked in a lot of water.  For perfect steaming, I seal my pot with aluminum foil during the cooking process and cook on the lowest heat.



beef pilau rice



Moving forward, you might make your own “Pilau masala” since it gives a more fresh touch to the Pilau rice, but it isn’t compulsory.  There are excellent store-bought Pilau masala powders that you can use.


Finally, adding tomatoes is optional, but I like adding them because I love the extra moisture they give.  Garnish with some coriander leaves for that ambrosial touch and enjoy.


5 from 1 vote
beef pilau rice
Beef Pilau Rice
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 10 mins
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins

This beef pilau rice is a mouth-watering rice dish cooked in a broth, seasoned with oriental spices like cardamom, cinnamon, star anise and cloves to mention but a few. Depending on the Pilau recipe, it may contain fish, chicken, vegetables, and even dried fruits like raisins. 

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: African, Indian
Servings: 5 People
Author: Jayne Rain
  • 1/2 cup olive oil ( approx. 120 ml)
  • 500 g Basmati rice
  • 300 g Beef (washed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 medium Onions (diced)
  • 3 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes (diced)
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger (minced)
  • 1 Beef cubes
  • 1 tsp Sea salt
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp Pilau masala
  • 5 medium Potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 1 cup Water (for cooking beef)
  • 2 cups Beef Broth
  • 1 handful Coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Chili powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander powder
Pilau Masala Spice Mixture
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 6 pods Cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp Black peppercorns
  • 1 stick Cinnamon
  • 6 Cloves
  • 2 Star anise
Making Pilau Masala.
  1. Combine the Pilau Masala Spice Mixture and Pan roast for a few seconds on medium heat to intensify the flavors and then grind in a mortar or a spice grinder.  Store in an air-tight container.

Making the Pilau Rice
  1. Meanwhile, wash the rice thoroughly and soak in water for about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  2. In a large saucepan, heat oil on medium heat, add the potatoes and brown lightly.  Drain them from the oil and set aside.  

  3. In the same pot, add the onions and fry till golden brown.  The browner your onions, the darker the pilau rice will be.

  4. Add the beef and fry till brown for about 10 minutes.  After that,  add garlic, ginger and the bay leaves. Keep stirring for one minute.

  5. Proceed to add the tomatoes, salt, Pilau masala, coriander powder, chili powder and beef cube and give a few stirs. 

  6. Cover the pot and allow the tomatoes to cook for about 5 - 6 minutes or until cooked. Don't forget to stir occasionally.

  7. Now, add 1 cup of water, cover the pot and let the meat simmer for 15 minutes on medium heat until all the liquid absorbs into the rice.

  8. After that, add the beef broth and mix well. Cover the pot and bring to a rolling boil.   Once the pot boils, add the browned potatoes and the rice and stir.

  9. Seal the pot with foil paper to trap all the steam and then steam the rice for about 40 minutes. 

  10. Finally, add the coriander leaves and gently fluff the beef pilau rice from bottom to top.

  11. Remove the bay leaves before serving.


What do you think about this beef pilau rice recipe?  Have you tried it out? Meet me in the comment section below and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.


If you loved this recipe, you might also like my Chicken Jollof Recipe here on my blog.