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Recipe Thursday for Black History Month: How to make East African Pilau Masala


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Africa and indeed the African Diaspora is the home of very delicious, classic and even spiritual meals. At ILoveAfrica, we love to share very exotic meal recipes from all over the continent, and today we have an East African Dish, Pilau Masala. This recipe is dedicated to the black history month cuisine.

Pilau is just another word used in East Africa to mean “pilaf”, which is a rice dish cooked in some type of broth after first being (sometimes) toasted in oil or butter to impart deeper flavor and some nice golden color.

 Recipe Thursday for Black History Month: How to make East African Pilau Masala

Ingredients for Pilau Masala

For Pilau Masala spice blend.

  • 1 TBSP green Cardamom pods

  • 5 whole cloves

  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds

  • 1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

  • 1 cinnamon stick, crushed

Recipe Thursday for Black History Month: How to make East African Pilau Masala

Pilau Rice:

  • 2 tbsp oil or ghee

  • 2 1/2 cups basmati rice (I used brown), rinsed

  • 1 cup diced yellow onions

  • 1 Tbsp chopped garlic

  • 1 Tbsp chopped ginger

  • 1/4 cup chopped red peppers

  • 2 tbsp pilau masala spice blend

  • 4 cups vegetable broth

  • 1 cup canned coconut milk

  • 1 ½ tsp salt

  • 1-2 chiles, stemmed and halved (optional)


Make the Spice Blend: In a skillet over medium heat, toast the spices for the pilau masala, stirring frequently, until the spices darken and begin to smoke, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove them from the heat and then transfer the spices to a food processor (or mortar and pestle OR spice grinder) and pulse until finely ground.

Make the Pilau: In a large skillet or pot, heat the oil or ghee, then add the chopped onions and rinsed basmati rice stirring until toasted, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and red bell pepper, and 2 tbsp of the pilau masala blend, and continue to cook until fragrant, about 2 more minutes.

Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, salt, and halved peppers if using.

Bring the rice to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and cook for about 40 minutes or until the rice is tender and cooked through.

Fluff with a fork.



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