Pilau Ya Kuku (Chicken Pilau - Tanzanian Recipe)

Ingredients:
  • one-half teaspoon cumin seeds
  • one-half teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • several whole cloves ("cloves" not "cloves of garlic")
  • one cinnamon stick (or a few pinches ground cinnamon)
  • a few cardamom pods (or a few pinches ground cardamom)
  • oil for frying
  • several cloves of garlic
  • two teaspoons fresh ginger
  • three cups of rice (uncooked)
  • one big onions, chopped
  • one to two pounds of meat (beef, chicken, mutton, fish, shrimp, or prawns), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • two to four potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
    Directions
    To make sure you get lovely fluffy rice, wash it in several changes of cold water, then leave to soak for about 30 minutes in fresh cold water. If you don't have time for this, place in a sieve and wash under the cold tap for a minute or so.


    Heat oil in deep pot. fry onions until clear.stir. Add garlic and ginger. Continue stirring and frying until the flavors have mixed. It should develop a nice aroma. Add all the spices and stir for two to three minutes make sure you don't burn it.


    Add the meat, stir and cook over high heat until meat is browned on the outside. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes. Remove the meat ( this is when you use tender chicken) and most of the onions, and set them aside. Add potatoes and stir it thoroughly until they are golden brown and remove, and set aside.



    Add water bring to boil, add the rice and stir until thoroughly once. Let it cook or until the water is down.
    Add the meat and potatoes back stir it and cover with a tight-fitting lid. If the lid isn't very tight, cover the pan with aluminum foil before putting the lid on.

    Turn the heat down low and leave to cook for 10 to 20 minutes before turning off the heat.

    Don't remove the lid; just leave the rice to continue cooking in the pan for about 15 minutes until you're ready to serve or  place entire pot in warm oven for an additional ten to twenty minutes. All moisture should be absorbed by rice and potatoes should be tender. Serve hot.

    22 comments:

    Shelly said...

    HI,
    How many people do you think this recipe will serve?

    Pauline said...

    Approximately 8-10 people.

    Anonymous said...

    This will be my first Christmas away from home. This recipe will come on hand. Thanks for sharing...

    Pauline said...

    I am glad I could help and enjoy!

    Jason Maloy said...

    Hi- I am in a Kiswahili class at University of Arkansas. I am going to make this for a food day we have. I am wondering, if Pilau masala will take the place of some of these spices? Also I am trying to figure out how to subscribe to your blog. Thanks for posting this.

    Swahili Mom Kitchen said...

    Hi Jason, Thanks for stopping by I hope you found my posts useful. I feel embarrassed that I haven't post anything new in a while but i will start to do that often. Yes Pilau masala is a mixture of pilau spices. Sometime I do add some more cardamons but you can do just fine without adding any other spices.

    I need to add a subscribe gadget...i am going to do this right now...

    Enjoy your pilau and please keep me update.

    Anonymous said...

    Hi Ive tried making pilau several times but it never browns the way real kiswahili pilau browns. Secondly if im using the pilau masala, how many teaspoons would bring out this aroma perfectly say if you I am cooking two cups of rice?

    Pauline said...

    For your pilau to be brown you need to make sure you put oil in a pan and let it reaches to the high temperature before you add your onions. If you have ghee is the best as it reaches to the high temperature very fast and stays that way.

    2nd fry your onion to dark brown (not burnt) and then add beef/chicken. Make sure you fry it to the color you want (if possible take some onions out) but if you have used enough (yellow) onions you will not need to do this as they won't burn.

    For your 2nd question honesty, I only use Pilau Masala if it was direct imported from Tanzania. I found from my local stores (even from Indian stores) they lack that pilau aroma maybe it's because of staying in shelves for such a long time (not sure why). So if I don't have the pilau masala in hand from Tanzania, I mix and grind my own spices from scratch. (read the pilau masala ingredients). Make sure you mix the right amount and use all at the same time, if you can't do that keep using pilau masala but for a two cups rice I wouldn't add more than two tea spoons....the more spices you use the bitter the taste or the pilau will give use a heartburn...

    pendakula said...

    Hi Swahili Mum! How many cups of water for the rice? Asante Mama.

    Pauline said...

    It depends on what kind of rice you are using like aged rice needs more water that the plain regular Jasmin rice. Uncle Ben's rice brand needs less water than Bismat rice

    The rule of thumb when cooking rice 1:2 ration is common for most brands. That means one cup of rice use two cups of water...

    Heather said...

    So the spices all need to be ground together before adding to the onion and garlic? And when you say "several" for the garlic and the cloves, how many do you mean?

    Pauline said...

    Heather, You don't have. Growing up we used to eat pilau with spices just as they are. The use of ground spices originated from Zanzibar and now everyone is doing that. They call (pilau chafu) -dirty pilau (with whole spices) and (pilau safi) clean pilau (ground spices). The good thing abt ground spices is that they all blend in and you don't have to worry people chewing the spices as they eat. I always have fresh cardamon and cloves so sometimes I tend to just add them without grinding them and nobody notice.

    For your second question that depends on the amount of the pilau you are cooking but I can tell you that if the spices are not fresh from Tanzania or Zanzibar use equal part for all your spices i.e 1/4 teaspoon for everything but if they are fresh then cloves and cardamon need to be a little less as they have strong aroma. Also I have realized that the more garlic you put the better the taste but do not put a whole lot...:)

    Heather said...

    My spices will be from the grocery store here and I would like to make it as traditionally as possible-I'm cooking for my boyfriend from Tanzania. I might try to get spices from the Indian market if they are still open when I get off but even then I'm not sure where the spices will be imported from.

    Pauline said...

    If that is the case use equal parts of all the spices.

    Remember to use a big onion or two/three onions if they are small.

    If you use a regular supermarket chicken and not a fowl chicken make sure after the frying process just when you add water take the chicken out (this helps the chicken not to over cooked). Put it back just before you cover the pilau with a foil paper.

    One more thing, wash your rice two to three times to remove the starch if you don't have time to soak the rice. That makes a big difference even if something goes wrong but still the food will not stick together like Ugali...:)

    Also don't use uncle Ben rice...I don't know where you live but in the US there is that brand it's good for rice pudding, sushi and all that but not for pilau. Try Indian rice and not Japanese rice or similar others that they cook very fast.

    Good luck and happy Thanksgiving

    Heather said...

    Ok. I'm using jasmine rice. Thank you for your help and for posting this recipe!

    Syakaa William said...

    Hey, Im a Tanzanian abroad and your blog is a life saver. Having food from home sort of reminds you of home.
    ASANTE

    ajira said...

    I'm curious about what your preferred reheating method is?

    Fairie Losopher said...

    Habari SwahiliMom, I'm an Aussie who lived in Tanzania for a few years, am home now, and am missing the village mamas pilau ya kuku - they'd cook it over a jiko. sooo delicious! So I'm stoked to have found your recipe. Thanks for posting.

    Your comment about safi and chafu pilau makes me laugh. I'm pretty sure the village mamas were feeding me chafu pilau, but I'm going to make safi pilau here. I also vaguely recall that the mamas would use a whole head of garlic!

    Just one question.

    Re: Let it cook or until the water is down.

    What do you mean here exactly? Let the rice & water cook until the water is completely gone? or until there it has gone down a bit but can still be seen above the rice? Or until it is completely gone and the rice might begin to stick to the bottom of the pan?...or do you mean just until you can't see it on top of the rice anymore, but if you put a spoon through the rice you might see a few centimetres of water at the bottom of the pan? (sorry to be so precise, but I can't recall what the mamas showed me - I asked them to 'teach' me to make it several times, see! but I never could quite master it!).

    Thanks in advance.


    Fairie Losopher said...

    Oh also mama, I see you have a recipe for okra and spinach - but it's in swahili and i have swahili kidogo (SANA!). If you find time to translate it, please let me know. It looks chakula tamu!

    asanta tena

    Pauline said...

    Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. You don't have to apologize we all have to start from somewhere..I didn't really know how to cook anything until I was in my early 20s.

    1. Cook until the water is down just like the last picture. Make sure the water you add is just the right to cook the rice. This depends on the type of rice you use (some cook faster than the other). That is why it's very hard to tell people exactly amount of water to add...But it's always better to put less water than too much water...You can add hot water if you taste the rice before you cover with the foil paper and feel the rice is still very uncooked. And sometimes you even can finish cooking the rice using the oven.

    ***When you turn down the heat make sure there is no water at all just like I said look at the last picture. It should be just like that before you put the foil paper and reduce the heat. If you still have some water and turn the heat down it will take time to cook the rice and that way will not be a fluffy pilau instead..that will be a risotto...:)

    Yes,I have learned that too the more the garlic onion the better the taste but not that much a little bit more goes a long way....

    Anonymous said...

    Please please, tell me you know the Tanzanian recipe, Maini na Wali (liver and Rice). I would so much love to have it! Asunte sana!

    Pauline said...

    Maini and wali mixed? I don't know and never ate that dish before but if it's Main as a sauce and wali yes.