Ginger-Clove Pilaf

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Ginger-Clove PilafI once went on a trip to Tanzania. It was awesome. Apart from the shock of watching the circle of life—up close—on safari, my second biggest surprise was the food. It left an indelible mark on my culinary attitudes toward Africa. Though most of my time was on the mainland, it was my visit to the island of Zanzibar that sent me for a loop. It was essentially eating the Middle East due to a history as a trade hub for Arab goods, read: SPICES. This pilaf dish, to me, is Zanzibar on a plate.

  • Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes


  • 3½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, diced
  • 2 cups basmati or other long grain white rice, uncooked
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
How to Make It
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small pot, bring chicken broth to a simmer and leave on low.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the chicken and sauté for 4-6 minutes, until the chicken has browned. Add the rice, onion, salt, and green bell pepper, and sauté until the rice begins to toast and the onion becomes almost translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and continue to sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Stir well, and cook for another minute. Remove from heat. Carefully pour the skillet contents into a baking dish and add the hot chicken broth. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven for 55 minutes.
  4. Remove the pilau from the oven and allow to rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover; fish out and remove the cinnamon stick before serving steaming scoops.

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