Pilau Rice or Rice Pilaf
Rice Pilaf or Pilau Rice, also commonly called rice pulao is a dish in which rice, traditionally basmati rice, is cooked in a seasoned broth typically containing meat, though vegetarian versions are popular as well. Depending on the local cuisine and recipe, rice pilaf or pilau rice may also contain a variety of meat and vegetables. If you’re looking for a rice cooker recipe for Rice Pilaf check out Rice Cooker Rice Pilaf
History of Rice Pilaf or Pilau Rice
One of the earliest literary references to rice pilaf or pilau rice is found in the history of Alexander the Great . Rice pilaf was served to him upon Alexander’s capture of Marakanda (modern Samarkand) and Alexander’s army the brought rice pilaf back to Macedonia and introduced it throughout Eastern Europe.
The first documented recipe for rice pilaf or pilau rice was documented in the tenth century by a Persian scholar who wrote books on medical science and devoted an entire section to preparing various meals, including several types of rice pilaf, and described advantages and disadvantages of every item used for preparing it.
Pilau Rice In Different Cultures
Rice Pilaf or Pilau Rice are now common throughout the world with many countries or regions having their own variation of it. Pilau rice has a history in the Southern United States stretching back over 300 years. As Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote in her book Cross Creek Cookery:
“…We pronounce the word ‘pur-loo.’ It is any dish of meat and rice cooked together. No Florida church supper, no large rural gathering, is without it. It is blessed among dishes for such a purpose, or for a large family, for meat goes farther in a pilau than prepared in any other way.”
In Greek cuisine, rice pilaf is fluffy and soft rice that has been boiled in a meat stock or bouillon broth. Gamopílafo (“wedding pilaf”) is a prized rice pilaf served traditionally in weddings and major celebrations in Crete. The rice is boiled in chicken broth, then finished with lemon juice and melted butter.
In Tajik and Afghan cuisine, pilau rice is made by cooking basmati rice in a broth-like sauce. The pilau rice may be made with lamb, chicken, or beef. The pilau rice is baked in the oven and topped with fried sliced carrots and raisins. Chopped nuts like pistachios or almonds may be added as well. The meat is covered by the rice or buried in the middle of the dish.
In South Asia, rice pulao is a dish that consists of rice and commonly including peas, potatoes, mutton, beef, or chicken. Meat rice pulao is a North Indian tradition, especially among the Muslim population. Biryani rice is a popular dish in Indian cuisine very similar to rice pilaf. It is made from basmati rice or similar aromatic rice such as jasmine rice.
In Uzbekistan rice pilaf has a long cultural history. The Uzbez rice pilaf differs in that rice is not steamed, but instead simmered in a rich stew of meat and vegetables until the liquid is absorbed by the rice. The rice pilaf is commonly prepared with lamb or mutton, browned in lamb fat or vegetable oil, and then stewed for several hours with fried onions and carrots, and spiced with cumin, coriander, barberries and garlic, with the whole bulbs of garlic buried in rice during cooking. During the years of the Soviet Union, pilau rice spread and became a favorite throughout the other Soviet republics, many of which are now independent states.
If you’d like to try making Rice Pilaf, it’s simple to make using your rice cooker. Check out our recipe for Rice Cooker Rice Pilaf