Zanzibari Pilau




50 Min



Fatima’s pilau recipe

During our stay in Zanzibar, we got to know Fatima, her husband, and her family a bit better. It was nice to stay outside of town because we were able to observe the authentic village life.

One evening, Fatima introduced us to this tasty pilau recipe. Pilau is considered a typical Zanzibari dish. On the island its also called spice rice.

This pilau recipe is quick and easy while loaded with delicious flavors. Spice rice makes up for a veggie dish by itself, but as we were close to the sea with access to fresh tuna, Fatima proposed to add it to the rice.

The term Pilaf is often used when referring to rice which is cooked in broth. The technique originated in the Middle East but quickly spread across continents. It’s an intensely flavourful dish which will stimulate your taste buds!

The list of ingredients is quite long, but don’t let it scare you! It’s really easy to and quick to prepare.


  • 150 g  of tuna per person
  • 1,5 cups of rice per person
  • cumin spice
  • cardamon
  • curry
  • star anise
  • cinnamon stick
  • smoked paprika
  • minced garlic

For the marinara:

    • Soy sauce
    • Ginger
    •  Garlic
    •  Onions
    • 1 spoon of above-prepared spice mix
    • minced ginger
    • salt
    • pepper
    • 1 cup of broth
    • 1 cup of coconut milk
    • 1 chopped pepper
    • 2 chopped tomato


How to prepare Zanzibari Pilau

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees
  2. Mix all spices in one bowl and spare one spoon for the marinara
  3. Prepare marinara: mix spices with soy sauce, mashed garlic, and chopped ginger
  4. Let rest for 30 minutes
  5. Heat saucepans with oil and add all spices while stirring. After 2 minutes add tomatoes, onions pepper and quickly saute the tuna filets from both sides for 1 minute before taking them out
  6. Stir in rice and add broth and coconut milk
  7. Warp the tuna in foil and put it into the often for about 15 minutes
  8. Reduce heat and let the rice cook until finished. You may add liquids
  9. Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaf before sending your taste buds on a wild ride!
Pilau recipe from tanzania

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