This is a meal loved by many and is often seen as a must have whenever there is any function within Kenya and our neighbouring countries like Tanzania. It’s supposedly known as one of those festive meals. A moment of silence for days when we all heard the phrase from our parents where they could say they only got to see meals such as pilau and chapati only during the Christmas festivities.

To many of us, we refer to it as the meal from the Coast, we cannot refute the fact that Pilau cooked by Swahili’s is delicious, finger-liking and leaves you demanding for more of it. This alongside Swahili Biryani are the two main meals that I cannot fail to eat whenever I am in Mombasa and especially from one of the famous joints within Mombasa town known as Tarboosh where the crowd speaks volumes about their well cooked meals. However, I recently came a cross an article which mentions Pilau to have originated from India and was once serves to Alexander the Great. Now we all know why this meal is adorned with so much esteem.

Pilau has since remained one of my favourite meals since the time I was young and I have always enjoyed preparing it. However, this time, we take a peek into exactly how the original pilau from Coast is made with all its ingredients. This was inspired by one famous Kenyan Socialite Vera Sidika who took time to explain how true Swahili Pilau is made on her YouTube Channel. I decided to try it out with some modifications and the outcome … I will leave that to you to figure it out when you get to try it out. Be sure it will become one of those meals you will end up having everyday.

Ingredients (Serves 6)

1. 2 Medium Sized Onions cut into ring-like shapes

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2. 4 Crushed Garlic Cloves
3. 1/4 Piece of Ginger Crushed (A small sized piece to ensure it doesn’t become bitter)
4. 1/2 kg of Boiled Beef meat
5. 1 tbspn of Whole Cumin Seeds, Whole Cardamon Seeds, Whole Cloves and Pilau Masala

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6. 3 Pieces of Tomatoes
7. 2 1/2 cups of Basmati or Pishori Rice ( I prefer pishori rice)
8. 5 Cups of water
9. Salt to Taste
10. 2 tbspns of Cooking Oil
11. 3 Peeled Potatoes

How To Prepare Mahamri


1. Add oil to your sufuria and fry the onions till they become golden brown while making sure the onions do not overcook.
2. Add some small amount of the garlic and ginger mixture to the onions and let them cook for about 1 minute.
3. Add the boiled meat and let it cook for about 5 minutes to ensure it becomes tender and soft. (Meat used for pilau should be as soft as possible.)
4. Add the remaining amount of mixed garlic and ginger. Then add all the other spices and salt and mix it with the meat. Cover the sufuria for about 2 minutes to let the meat absorb the spices. The meat will begin to turn a little bit darker. (Not to worry, this happens due to the mixture of the spices with the meat)

5. Add the tomatoes and let them cook till they are not visible.
6. Add the potatoes and let them cook for sometime ensuring they do not overcook.

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7. Once the potatoes have slightly cooked, add 5 cups of water and bring it to boil. As the water boils, rinse the rice.
8. Once the water has boiled add the rice and stir slightly to ensure all ingredients are evenly mixed and spread out.
9. Let the rice cook till all water has dried up.
10. Once ready, serve with either Kachumbari or Pilipili ya Kukaanga or Chicken Stew or with your favourite drink either a smoothie of fresh juice.

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Avocado-Banana Smoothie

You may ask what modifications did I make compared to the one done by Vera? I did fry the onions and added some tomatoes into the pilau. The tomatoes were to ensure the pilau is well balanced with all nutrients carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins are taken care of. I also omitted Cinnamon sticks from the recipe to ensure the whole family can enjoy the meal as cinnamon is not much of a favorite in the house. You can check out her video Here

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We will be glad to hear your cooking experience. Enjoy.


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