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Swahili pilau is a flavorful rice dish that is popular in the coastal regions of Kenya, including Watamu. The dish is a staple at GK Palms Resort and is often served with succulent grilled seafood or spicy curries. If you’re a fan of fragrant, spicy dishes, then you’ll definitely want to try this recipe for Swahili pilau from GK Palms.


  • 2 cups of basmati rice
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp of grated ginger
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tsp of ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 2 cups of beef or chicken broth
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cilantro, chopped (optional)


  1. Rinse the rice and soak it in water for about 30 minutes. Drain the water and set aside.
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the chopped onions and sauté until they are soft and translucent.
  4. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger and sauté for another minute.
  5. Add the ground cumin, coriander, cardamom, and turmeric to the pot and stir well.
  6. Add the chopped tomato and cook until it has softened.
  7. Add the rice to the pot and stir well to coat it with the spices.
  8. Add the beef or chicken broth and water to the pot and bring it to a boil.
  9. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked and the liquid has been absorbed.
  10. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  11. Fluff the rice with a fork and sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.

Enjoy this delicious Swahili pilau with grilled prawns or any other seafood dish for a truly authentic coastal meal. You can also pair it with other Swahili dishes like biryani, kachumbari, and chapati for a feast fit for a king or queen. And if you’re ever in Watamu, don’t forget to visit GK Palms Resort to taste their version of this classic dish.

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