Kenyan Beef Pilau: A Flavorful Rice Dish with a Rich History

An easy mouth watering beef and rice dish infused with spicy flavor and sweet aromas
kenyan beef pilau with carrots pinit

Beef pilau is a beloved rice dish that is popular across many cultures and cuisines. With its aromatic blend of spices, tender chunks of beef, and fluffy rice, it’s no wonder that this dish has become a favorite in households and restaurants around the world. But what is beef pilau, and where did it come from?

The History of Beef Pilau

Beef pilau has a rich history that spans several countries and cultures. The dish is believed to have originated in the Middle East, where it was known as pilaf or pulao. From there, it spread to other parts of the world, including India, Pakistan, and East Africa.

In East Africa, beef pilau has become a staple dish that is often served at special occasions and celebrations. It’s particularly popular in Kenya and Tanzania, where it’s known as pilau or pilafu.

The Ingredients

Beef pilau is a flavorful dish that is made with a variety of ingredients. The main components include beef, rice, and spices. Here’s a breakdown of what goes into this delicious dish:

Beef: The beef used in beef pilau is typically a tough, flavorful cut such as chuck or brisket. The beef is usually cut into cubes and then browned in a pot before being set aside.

Rice: The rice used in beef pilau is typically a long-grain variety such as basmati rice. The rice is rinsed and then added to the pot with the beef.

Spices: The spices used in beef pilau are what give the dish its distinctive flavor. The most common spices used include cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. These spices are added to the pot along with onions, garlic, and ginger.

Other ingredients: Some variations of beef pilau include additional ingredients such as potatoes, carrots, and peas.

Cooking Kenyan Beef Pilau

Beef pilau is a relatively easy dish to make, although it does require some time and attention to get it just right. Do not dismay we have a recipe compiled for you which so happens to be a favorite to most of our team.

In conclusion, whether you’re looking to try something new or are already a fan of this classic dish, there is a variety of mixes to match your every mood and season. Enough rumbling, go ahead, try our Kenyan beef pilau recipe with an infusion of carrots that you will really appreciate.

Kenyan Beef Pilau: A Flavorful Rice Dish with a Rich History

Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 20 min Cook Time 80 min Rest Time 5 min Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Servings: 4 Calories: 480 Calories
Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


The variation of beef pilau is simple to follow and comes with rich rewards with the vast flavor profile and aromas enjoyed throughout the East African coast and into inland Kenya by families and individuals at home and in local restaurants.



  1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add the beef in 2-3 batches depending on the size of the pot. Sear until brown on all sides. Do it this way to prevent the meat from steaming or boiling. Then remove the meat and set aside. 

  2. Fry the onions and stir for 2-3 minutes until light brown then add the crushed garlic.

  3. Add the carrots, chili powder, pilau masala, black pepper, and bay leaves. Season with salt and stir to mix well., Let cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the carrots soften.

  4. Add the beef and hot water (to cook the beef), stir again to mix then cover the pot with a lid and let simmer for 45 minutes-1 hour until the meat is tender and until the water has dried off. Times may vary depending on the cut of the beef. 

  5. Layer the rice onto the meat, season with some more salt to taste, pour in the hot water (to cook the rice) and let boil uncovered for 10-12 minutes.

  6. Sprinkle coriander powder onto the almost cooked rice just as the water level drops to the same level as the rice. Cover and reduce the temperature and let simmer for 12-15 minutes.

  7. Remove from the heat and let sit for 3-5 minutes. Serve hot with your favorite accompaniment or standalone.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 550grams

Servings 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 480kcal
Calories from Fat 270kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 30g47%
Saturated Fat 6g30%
Trans Fat 1.1g
Cholesterol 90mg30%
Sodium 145.99mg7%
Potassium 535mg16%
Total Carbohydrate 96g32%
Dietary Fiber 3.2g13%
Sugars 16.7g
Protein 30.29g61%

Vitamin C 12 mg
Calcium 6 mg
Iron 16 mg
Vitamin D 1 IU
Magnesium 3 mmol

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


This Pilau can be served best with accompaniments such as:

  • Kachumbari salad (tomato salsa) 
  • Coleslaw salad
  • Carrot and sultana salad
  • Guacamole or other variations of Avocado Salsa
Keywords: Beef, Onion, Carrot, Rice, Spicy, Kenyan, Pilau

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