Mawe Lodges

How to Make Tanzanian Pilau

Tanzanian Beef Pilau

Making Tanzanian Pilau, a flavorful and aromatic rice dish, is a delightful culinary experience. This dish is celebrated for its rich blend of spices and is a staple at many Tanzanian celebrations and gatherings. Here’s a recipe to make Tanzanian Pilau:


  • 2 cups Basmati rice (or any long grain rice)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1-2 cups meat (beef, chicken, turkey, or lamb), cut into cubes (optional for non-vegetarian)
  • 4 cups chicken or beef broth (or water)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable cooking oil
  • Fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped (for garnish)



Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and prevents the rice from becoming sticky.
If you’re using meat, season it with salt and pepper.

Cooking the Spices and Aromatics:

Heat a few tablespoons of cooking oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and black peppercorns. Fry them for a minute until they start to release their aroma.
Add the chopped onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until the onions become soft and golden.

Adding the Meat (Optional):

If you’re including meat, add it to the pot now. Brown the meat on all sides.

Cooking the Rice:

Add the rinsed rice to the pot and stir to coat it with the oil and spices.
Pour in the broth (or water) and add the bay leaf and salt to taste.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and the liquid is absorbed.

Finishing the Tanzanian Pilau:

Once the rice is cooked, please turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, fluff the rice with a fork.
If desired, remove the whole spices (cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cloves).


Garnish the Pilau with chopped fresh cilantro (coriander).
Serve hot alone or with accompaniments like salads, kachumbari, or raita.
Enjoy your Tanzanian Pilau! This dish is a treat for the taste buds and fills your kitchen with a delightful aroma. Remember, the key to a great Pilau is the balance and quality of the spices used.

Other Additionals:

Irish potatoes, a side sauce such as homemade tomato sauce, and green vegetables can complement Pilau very well.

Tanzania Pilau Tradition:

Tanzanian pilau is a popular dish commonly prepared for festive occasions such as Ramadan, Christmas, weddings, and many traditional celebrations.

Lastly, at Mawe Lodges properties, we proudly have Tanzanian theme night, where Tanzanian Pilau is served.

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