There have been requests for recipes and this is the year we finally do that! I wanted to feature ones that are easy enough to actually get you to try them and Chef Reagan all the way from Nairobi is sharing an easy recipe to make Pilau.
Chef Reagan has been fascinated by food ever since he was very young. He runs his own private business and also works as an ‘On call’ chef, he will come over to your house to cook whatever. (Scroll through his Instagram to see dishes local and otherwise) He learnt his craft from research and from watching other chefs cook.
By Reagan Otieno
I have made pilau a lot of times and one of the reasons i love it so much is that it is easy to make. It is a one pot dish which means less dishes. I Insist on less dishes.
About the banana on the side; Pilau is a coastal dish that was majorly made by the muslim community who have banana with all their rice dishes. Pilau, lime and banana is a staple there. I too have embraced the culture and i love it.
- 1/2kg beef, pre- boiled
- 3 cloves garlic
- A reasonable amount of ginger
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup basmati rice, well rinsed.
- 1 red onion, cut into thin strips
- 3 tablespoons pilau masala
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dark superior soy sauce
- 2 cups hot water
- Salt to taste
- In a hot pot over medium high heat, add vegetable oil and let it heat up for about three seconds before tossing in the onions. Let the onions cook until beautifully caramelized whilst string frequently. This might take up to 5 minutes. Be sure not to burn the onions. When the pan gets too hot, take down the heat to medium low.
- Add the garlic and ginger and stir to ensure the garlic does not burn. When the garlic starts emitting it’s beautiful aroma add the black pepper, cumin and pilau masala then let them cook for about 2 minutes still over medium low heat while stirring gently to ensure nothing burns.
- Go in with the beef and stir until everything comes together flawlessly. Sprinkle the soy sauce over the beef and let it cook for about 2 minutes while stirring frequently.
- Proceed to add the rice and stir until everything is mixed wonderfully.
- Season with enough salt at this point bearing in mind that the soy sauce is also salty. Add water into the pot and stir while scraping all the beautiful flavors that stuck at the bottom of the pot.
- Cover the pot tightly and let the pilau simmer over medium low heat. Cook for about 20 minutes or until all the water has evaporated from the pot.
Voila! And there you have yourself a beautiful pot of pilau!
Enjoy alongside a banana and tomato salsa (kachumbari) not forgetting a chilled tropical drink.
Tips to achieve the best results.
- Ensure you use good quality rice. Basmati rice does not clump up when cooking which ensures you end up with a beautiful plate of pilau.
- There is definitely no need to use tomatoes, tomato paste or even bell peppers. I’ve had pilau with and without them and I honestly prefer my pilau without them. But as the saying goes, to each one their own!
- Boil the beef until it is very tender. This ensures you enjoy your pilau without having too chewy beef.
- For one cup of rice put two cups of water. This will mean two cups of rice will require four cups of water, and so on and so forth.
- Cook your spices to ensure you get maximum flavors from them. Add them to the onions and not at the end of the cooking process.
- Ensure the rice simmers slowly over medium low heat. Don’t rush it. Plus ensure it’s tightly covered with a well-fitting lid or aluminum foil.
- Fluff the rice before serving to ensure everyone gets a little bit of everything.
- I prefer using powdered spices. Imagine bumping into a whole log of cinnamon in your pilau! If you have whole spice, grind them finely.