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Recipes Of Best Swahili Delicacies: Pilau, Biryani, Mahamri

Pilau is a rice flavored meal containing your favorite meat, but as a substitute for meat, vegetarians can use soya meat or vegetables. The number of variations has resulted in a variety of ingredients that complement the rice. You can make Sausage pilau, beef pilau, mutton pilau, chicken pilau, coconut pilau, and vegetable pilau. This rice dish has so many possibilities.

Step by step guide on how to make Swahili delicacies-pilau
The first step in making yummy pilau is to ensure you have all the ingredients next to your cooking area to avoid overcooking some items. Adjust the ingredients according to the number of servings you want. This recipe serves 4 to 6 people.

Ingredients for making pilau

1kg beef, lamb, mutton or chicken
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 to 3 large potatoes (optional) peeled and cut into quarters
1 large onion diced
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon fresh ginger and garlic paste
2 cups long grain rice preferably basmati
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
3 cups broth
Boiled meat
1tsp Salt add to taste
1 tablespoon pilau seasoning: to prepare pilau Masala roast and grind
2 cardamons, half teaspoon of black peppercorns, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tablespoon of cumin Seeds and 2 cloves.
Pilau cooking method:
Start by preparing the broth. Wash the meat, put it in a pressure cooker and add 5 cups of water, one teaspoon of ginger, garlic, salt, black pepper, 1 grated onion and 1 bay leaf. When cooking with pressure cooker the meat will be ready in 25 minutes. However, you can still boil your meat in a cooking pot; depending on the hardness, it can take 45 minutes to an hour for your meat to be ready. Remember beef takes longer than chicken, mutton, and lamb.

Once the meat is tender, set it aside in a bowl and reserve the broth for cooking pilau. While your meat is cooking, you can grind the whole spices depending on whether or not you like them whole while you’re eating your pilau. Then wash your rice at least two times until the water is clear and soak for 20 minutes.

Place a cooking pot on your source of heat and heat the oil. Remember your cooking pot or sufuria has to be big enough to accommodate the broth, rice, meat, and potatoes. Also, consider that the rice will double in size.

Add chopped onions and sauté until translucent. For a darker pilau, fry the onions until caramelized. Next, add potatoes, followed by cumin seeds and stir for few minutes. Add Pilau seasoning and let it cook for one to two minutes then add the ginger and garlic paste followed by the boiled meat, stir and mix to combine followed by the tomato paste. By now you and the neighbours should be able to smell the pilau aroma.

Add broth, rice and bring to a boil. Remember one cup of rice equals two cups of water. Let the mixture boil for about 2 minutes then reduce the heat, cover with a tight lid and simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Once all the water has dried check to see if your rice is well cooked. If the rice is ready, switch off the pot and serve with kachumbari and pili pili ya kukaanga.

Biryani is one of the most delicious and popular Swahili delicacies. Swaili delicacies biryani features tender meat cooked in thick spicy gravy served over a bed of colorful rice. The taste and aroma of biryani will leave a lasting impression on both your mouth and mind.


How to make tasty biryani
The trick with making a tasty biryani is the flavourful masala base and colorful rice. So your rice has to be of high quality and marinate the meat overnight or at least for 2 hours. When making pilau you had the option of using the already premixed pilau masala spices, but when it comes to biryani, there’s no shortcut.

The marinade made with yogurt tends to stick at the bottom of the cooking pot. So use a thick cooking pot that ensures equal heat distribution and keep the pot sealed during cooking. Also, don’t be deterred by the spices in these Swahili dishes recipes because when you cook the spiciness will decrease from your gravy. The meat should be half the volume of rice to avoid overpowering the smell of rice. Lastly, avoid adding raw onions during the marinating process, and you’ll thank me later.

You have to follow each step to the latter and use the right ingredient if you want to enjoy the authentic Swahili biryani. The following recipe serves 4 to 6 people.

Ingredients for Swahili biryani

1 kg Chicken, beef or any other meat
5 tablespoons oil for marinating
5 tablespoons for frying
4 large onions sliced
5 to 6 potatoes peeled and cut into halves
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon ground garam masala
1 tablespoon whole pilau mix
2 tomatoes cubed
1 green pepper finely diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 lemons squeezed
250ml thick plain yogurt
Salt to taste
For the Rice
2 cups long grain basmati rice
4 cups Water
1/2 teaspoon yellow food color
Salt to taste
Cooking Method for biryani
First, fry the onions until golden brown. Add half of the onions and marinate the meat in the ginger, garlic, pilau mix, half of the yogurt, half the fried onions, 3 tbsp. Tomato paste, oil, a pinch of orange food coloring, salt, 1 chopped green chili and a pinch of the saffron. Mix the spices, meat and marinate overnight. For best results, marinate for at least 2 hours.

In a cooking pot add in the oil and fry half of the remaining onions to golden brown. Using the same oil fry the potatoes to get a good outward crust and keep aside. You can also soak your potatoes in yellow food color for 15 minutes and then fry. This gives the potatoes a nice color.

In a separate cooking pan, add the same oil used for frying onions and fry the garlic and ginger. Sauté for 2 minutes, partly crush the whole pilau mix and throw in then add the turmeric and Garam masala and continue to stir. Then add the meat and cook for 2 minutes.

Next, add the tomato, lemon juice, green peppers, tomato paste and yogurt stir. Ensure the mixture coats the meat and then add the potatoes then sprinkle fried onions on top and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and let it cook on medium heat for another 10 minutes.

How to cook biryani rice
While you’re waiting for your stew to cook measure 4 cups of water and add in the 2 cups of rice, salt, and a few pieces of pilau whole mix. Cover and cook until the rice is 3/4 cooked. Drain excess water and set rice aside. Another way to cook the rice is to pre-soak for 20 minutes. While waiting for the rice to cook, dilute the yellow food color with water.

After the meat is cooked and the stew has reduced, add in the partly cooked rice on top. Then sprinkle the diluted yellow food color and saffron on the rice. Next add 2 tablespoons of the oil used to fry onions.

Cover with a tight lid then put the pot on a low flame so that the rice can steam for 15 minutes and absorb flavor from the gravy on the bottom. Serve the rice from the bottom upwards.

When it comes to ranking Swahili delicacies, mahamri will top the list of favorite breakfast treats. Mahamri is common in many breakfast tables in the coastal region and often accompanies tea or chai. The main ingredients that go into making these puffy treats are coconut milk, instant yeast, and cardamom.

Mahamri ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
Half a cup of sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom powder
1 tablespoon yeast
Three-quarter cup heavy coconut milk
Half a cup of light coconut milk
1 tbsp plain yogurt (optional)
Oil for frying
How to cook Swahili mahamri
Start by sieving the flour. In a mixer combine the flour with instant yeast, sugar and cardamom powder. If you don’t have a mixer you can make the dough and knead using your hands. Next, add the plain yogurt and coconut milk a little at a time until the dough is soft and firm. Remove from the mixer and check that all the dough has been kneaded properly. Make a deep slit through the dough and if it looks bubbly on the inner part then it’s ready. If not, continue kneading for another 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into two big balls, place them on a dry surface and allow them to rise for about 20 minutes. Divide each of the two balls into half and using a rolling pin roll the dough until it forms a quarter inch flat circle. Divide the circle into four quarter sections and ensure each section looks like a triangle. Repeat with all rest of the balls.

Place the triangle sections on a floured flat surface and let it rest for an hour. Then put the oil in a deep pan and wait for it to get hot. To check if the oil is ready, put a wooden spoon in the oil and if you see bubbles coming up then the oil is hot enough to fry.

Put about 2 to 3 triangle sections into the hot oil and splash oil all over them to ensure they puff up. Turnover and fry until light brown. If you want your mahamri darker, fry for a few more minutes and remove when golden brown. Repeat this process with the rest of the dough. Allow your mahamri to cool and enjoy with a cup of tea or pigeon peas cooked in thick coconut milk. Enjoy!

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