Beef Pilau with Sweet Potatoes

Swahili Kenyan Beef Pilau

Pilau made right, for me has to be one of my favourite Kenyan dishes.

I will be honest, I have a hard time choosing favourite dishes mainly because I love the taste of different food and textures of worldy cuisines that makes it all so diificult to just pick one dish I could eat over and over again….For me Pilau comes close to being that one dish….

I once ate pilau for an entire week 😉 gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “how deep is your love? how far does it go?”…and so it goes without saying, that I go out of my way to make it right?

My pilau takes inspiration from swahili-Indian pilaus and so usually I add fresh chilis which are optional and potatoes (which is essential for a swahili pilau) but if you omit them, dont worry it will still be a pilau… For this particular pilau I opted for sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes which tastes just as good if not better.

FYI if you just want your pilau with “warus”( kikuyu for potatoes) see the video below.

  • 2 cups basmati rice (soaked for 20min, rinsed and drained)
  • 2 large onions
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 heaped tsp ginger
  • 1 heaped tsp garlic
  • 1 large sweet potato aprox 300g
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp pilau masala powder
  • 2 dry/fresh chillis (red/green)
  • Salt to taste
  • Boiled beef
  • 4 cups liquid(water+broth from meat)
Whole spices
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
    • 1tsp(5-8) cardamom pods
    • 10 blackpeppercorns
    • 6 cloves

*see video on how to make pilau masala powder*

For the Beef:
  • 500-800g beef on bone (cut into large chunks about 2 inches thick)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger(grated)
  • 1 tsp fresh garlic (grated) or finely chopped
  • 3 cups water

How to make meat(beef/mutton) for pilau.


  1. Start with the beef. In a sufuria add all the ingridients for the meat and simmer on low heat for about 1-2 hours or until the meat is tender soft and is justabout falling off the bone. Use a pressure cooker to speed up the process approx 30minutes. Watch above video on this step.
  2. Heat oil in large sauce pan(sufuria), add onions and fry until they start to turn  slightly brown
  3. Next, add all your dry whole spices, the ginger, garlic stir and fry on medium-high heat until the mixture is aromatic and turns completely brown (Be very careful not to burn the onion mix) ensure you keep stirring and regulate your heat if you feel it is too high.
  4. Throw in the sweet potatoes, little water about 1/4 a cup just to steam the potatoes and give them a head start. cover and simmer for a few minutes 3-5.
  5. Then add the tomato paste, pilau masala powder , boiled beef, stir well and cook for a minute or two
  6. Add the rice and stir gently ensuring you do not break the rice, ensure each grain of rice is well coated with the spices and oil
  7. Pour in the liquid which should be a total of 4 cups inclusive of the beef broth and water.
  8. Bring to boil check seasoning, add salt at this stage if need be.
  9. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20min or until rice is fully cooked.
  10. Put of heat and let pilau seat for atleast 5 minutes before serving
  11. Serve with kachumbari and avocado or as you prefer 🙂

Swahili Kenyan Beef Pilau


Check out my mutton pilau recipe below… just replace the meat with your choice of beef/mutton/chicken.





You may also like...

4 Responses

  1. Evelyn says:

    Thanks for the recipes

  2. Emma says:

    the sweet potato creates a whole new twist to the pilau. a must try.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.