Quick, easy, and aromatic one-pan East African Pilau Rice is packed with warm flavors from cumin, smoked paprika, curry, and cardamom. This highly-flavored vegan rice will make any meat lovers forget about meat. Guaranteed to satisfy even the most discerning palate!
This pilau right here dates back to Indian origin; probably an import that has been adapted for East African kitchens.
Pilau Rice is intensely flavored rice, somewhat of a celebratory dish, that is cooked throughout East African countries or countries situated along the Swahili region in Africa.
It varies in preparation, but it is super spicy! Not spicy hot, but a spice haven loaded with cinnamon, cumin, star anise, bay leaf, curry powder, cardamom, black pepper, garlic, ginger, onions, bell pepper, Jalapenos pepper, and pepper flakes. Aaand to make it even more flavorful, it is cooked with coconut milk. Seriously, not kidding when I said it is intensely flavorful!
Fear not! The list of ingredients might seem long but the preparation is easy breezy.
The first thing to do is sauté the spices for the ingredients to bloom, then proceed with the rest of the ingredients. Cooking time is no more than 25 minutes.
The term “Pilaf” often refers to the technique of cooking rice using seasoned broth. A technique that originated from the Middle East and quickly gained popularity in the neighboring countries and has spread its wings throughout the world. Most Notably in India, the Caribbean, and right here, in the U.S.A.
Yes, the African slaves transported it here. It is commonly known here as rice pilaf also known as pilav, pilau or pilaw in other parts of the world. Just some background info. I think you should know.
For the liquid, you may switch it up with any broth. I used 1 cup coconut milk and replace the other 3 cups with broth. I had some shrimp so topped the rice with it.
East African Pilau Rice
- 2-3 tablespoons cooking oil/butter/Ghee
- ⅓-½ cup cashew, optional
- 1 teaspoon cumin spice
- ½ teaspoon cardamom spice
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon curry spice
- ½ teaspoon star anise
- 1 teaspoon pepper flakes optional
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 small jalapenos pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1-2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cups Basmati rice
- 4 cups liquid, broth or water, and/or coconut milk
- 1½ teaspoon salt or more, adjust to taste
- ½ teaspoon white/black pepper
- Heat a saucepan with oil/butter. Sauté the cashews for about 2 -3 minutes.
- Then add all the spices – cumin, cardamom, smoked paprika, curry, star anise, pepper flakes, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick. Stir for about 1 minute. Throw in the garlic, ginger, jalapeños pepper, and onions. Continue cooking for another minute. Add tomatoes, bell pepper and continue cooking for about 2-3 minutes
- Stir in the rice and cook for about 2 minutes, then add 4 cups of broth /coconut milk, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until rice is completely cooked – about 18- 20 minutes. As the rice cooks, you may add more stock if needed. Once it's cooked, fluff the rice and remove the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and serve.
Tips & Notes:
- For the liquid, you may switch it up with any broth. I used 1-cup coconut milk and replace the other 3 cups with broth.
- Please keep in mind that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.