How to make pilau

Angel Mnyanyi, from Tanzania, demonstrates how to make chicken pilau. Angel Mnyanyi grew up in Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania. She and her husband, who works for IT at the University of Otago, came to Dunedin two years ago with their two daughters.

A lawyer by profession, she works part-time at OUSA student support centre while doing postgraduate studies.

From about AD800, the east coast of Africa was part of the Arab trade route around the Indian Ocean, and they introduced spices that still influence the local food today, as can be seen in this pilau.

Pilau, rice cooked with spices and meat, is a common meal in Tanzania and eaten at celebrations with kachumbari, a salad of tomato, onion and other vegetables.

Angel Mnyanyi with her pilau and kachumbari. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Angel Mnyanyi with her pilau and kachumbari. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Tanzanian pilau with kachumbari salad
Serves four
half a chicken, simmered in water until cooked and broken into pieces
2 Tbsp oil
1 onion
a head of garlic, the cloves peeled and crushed
2-3 Tbsp pilau masala (see below)
2 cups basmati rice
chicken stock (from cooking the chicken)

Pilau masala
1½ Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves

Mix the spices together.
Peel and slice the onion.
Heat oil in a pot and cook onion for a few minutes.
Add the crushed or pounded garlic and stir, then add the chicken pieces. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes to allow the flavours to infuse, then add rice and spices.
Stir to coat the rice and chicken with spices and oil. After a few moments, add salt and cover with chicken stock (the liquid the chicken was cooked in) or water. Stir, put on lid and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes until the water is absorbed and the rice cooked.
Check from time to time to make sure it is not catching on the bottom.

about ¼ cabbage
2 carrots, peeled,
1 onion
2 large tomatoes
about 2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
a little oil

Shred the cabbage finely. Grate the carrot on the finest side of the grater.
Heat a little oil in a pot, and stir-fry the cabbage and carrot for a minute or two so it is barely cooked, but not too crunchy.
Spread on a plate to cool.
Peel and chop the onion. To reduce the smell, sprinkle salt over the onion and crunch it up with your fingers. Add hot water and crunch some more, then rinse the onion and put it in the salad bowl.
Chop the tomatoes and add to the onion along with the cooled cabbage and carrot. Add salt to taste and vinegar or lemon juice.
Toss to mix.

Serve the pilau with the kachumbari.

• The pilau can be made in a rice cooker.
• Instead of chicken, you can use beef, goat, lamb or even pork.
• For a vegetarian dish, leave out the meat and eat the pilau with vegetables.

Thanks to Afife Harris and Hinton's Fruit and Produce in Northeast Valley.


- Camera: Peter McIntosh
- Editing: Peter Dowden


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