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Chicken pilau is served

had mouth-watering plate of chicken pilau at Bidibadu Beach Resort in Diani when I visited, and couldn’t get my mind off it. I didn’t only want to eat it, but also acquire the skill of whipping up such a mean serving. Chef Salim Chano readily took me up on my curious culinary quest.

I love rice because it gives me room to explore when it comes to cooking. You can do so much with it, but as I had confided in Salim, the only thing that evades me is the art of pilau making. Chef Salim was down with it and invited me into the kitchen.

The Coast Institute of Technology alumnus gave me tips that I pocketed with care. We talked about more than just pilau, and his understanding of the food and beverage industry was evident.

But that’s a story for another day.  In his approximately seven-year career stretch, Chef Salim has a few tricks he’s been dishing out to make great ‘non-sticky’ pilau, if I may say that.

The first secret is to cook rice to a 75 per cent tenderness, also known as al dente in the culinary lingo. Otherwise, the rice can be soaked for up to 25 minutes with a bit of salt. Using too many tomatoes makes the pilau wet, sticky or in other instances, mashed.

So, for a dry outcome, tomatoes should be minimal. For the chicken, the occasionally private chef advises blanching first, to kill the raw smell it might lace in the pilau. He likes his chicken barbecued, but after an hour or overnight of marinating.

Oh, and I learned that basmati rice is perfect for making pilau. I haven’t had a chance to test my grip on this lesson, but I’m sure I will hack it. And when I do, I’ll take some pics for the Gram, just to show off.


• 75 per cent cooked rice

(2 cups)

• Blanched chicken (250g)

• Onions (chopped)

• Dhania (coriander)

• Ginger (ground)

• Garlic (pounded)

• Tomato paste

• Cooking oil

• Your preferred spices

• Garam masala


√ Add onions to oil in a

heated pan.

√ Place in the blanched chicken and stir for three minutes before dropping in ground ginger and garlic.

√ Spread the tomato paste (pomodoro) on to the sizzling chicken and allow to cook for two to three minutes as you ready your spices.

√ Sprinkle your preferred spices on to the chicken and stir to mix.

√ Add the (75 per cent) cooked rice to your spicy mix and stir gently to blend it in.

√ Toss in fresh dhania.

√ Garam masala comes in last.

√ Cook under low heat for three minutes then serve with a side of salad.

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