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You may have eaten or even heard something about a delicious dish called Pilaf. It is a dish full of flavors given by Asian species, cooked in broth with vegetables and meat. But its origins, way of cooking and specific ingredients surely remain unknown to you.
Nowadays, there are countless variations of Pilaf, which makes it very difficult to recognize a genuine one. Sometimes, people call Pilaf any rice dish with vegetables.
Let’s find out the real origins of this versatile and delicious Asian rice dish. So, next time, you will know what you are eating and can explain its background.
Learning Some Pilaf’s Facts
Pilaf or Pilau is said to come from Persia where it extended to the Middle East or India near the 5th century BC. Its popularity and spread all over the region are the result of trading with Armenia, Georgia, Israel, Western and Central Asia and some European countries.
The term Pilaf refers to the method of toasting rice and onion in butter, and then cooking it with broth. As with all language evolution, the dish created by this technique ended up called Pilaf. Therefore, at present, Pilaf refers to both the method and the Asian rice-based dish.
Pilaf is served as a main dish with ayran, yogurt, or salads. It is also served as a complement to other dishes like meat preparations, or kebabs.
Some historians stated that Pilaf is the inspiration for various traditional dishes worldwide. Paella, Risotto, Jambalaya and even the Asian fried rice are believed to be based on Pilaf recipes.
Identifying Different Variations
Pilaf’s original version is a one-pot preparation including jasmine rice, butter, onion, broth, spices, herbs and some meat. Its distinctive nutty flavor is given by the use of tons of butter and the aroma of the fragrant jasmine rice.
To this base recipe, countless versions have been created depending on the Asian country. To name a few:
- The Iranian version has jasmine rice, a huge amount of butter, dried berries, saffron and some herbs.
- Turkey variation contains olive oil instead of butter, fresh vegetables, creamy sauces and meatballs.
- Armenian Pilaf has rice, egg noodles and butter, and is cooked in chicken broth.
- Georgian Pilaf is a sweet version containing rice, butter, sugar, raisins, dried cherry, apple and orange zest.
- The Israeli variation includes rice, vermicelli noodles, olive oil, onion, pine nuts, sultanas and cooked in chicken broth.
Cooking a True Pilaf: A Traditional Rice-Based Dish
Now that you know the origins of this delightful dish, do not settle for just eating it, better to cook it at home.
Preparing Pilaf is very easy and simple, you only need to know how to cook jasmine rice with the pilaf method. Depending on whether you want to make the original recipe or one of the regional versions, some ingredients will be different.
To get a very close Asian taste, you need to follow simple rules:
- Use jasmine rice. It gives the iconic nutty flavor and aroma to this delicious dish.
- Toast rice with butter. Rice should have a brownish color.
- Broth must have a strong flavor of herbs and spices.
- Rice is ready when the broth has been absorbed completely.
For starting the journey of these amazing tastes, try the following recipe:
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 4 tablespoons of butter.
- 1 cup of diced onion.
- 4 minced cloves of garlic.
- 2 cups of jasmine rice.
- 4 cups of chicken broth.
- 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Fresh parsley to garnish.
- Rinse rice with enough water.
- Melt the butter at medium heat in a mid-sized saucepan.
- Sauté the onion and the garlic until they get soft.
- Incorporate rice and combine all ingredients very well.
- Cook rice until it gets browned.
- Pour chicken broth and salt. Stir.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Let it stand and serve with fresh parsley on the top.
Ingredients (4 servings):
- 1 cup of jasmine rice.
- ¼ of butter.
- ½ cup of sugar.
- ⅓ cup of raisins.
- ⅓ cup of dried cherries.
- 1 peeled and chopped apple.
- 2 cups of water.
- Orange zest for garnish.
- Rinse rice until water is clear. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add sugar and apple. Stir very well and cook for 5 minutes.
- Incorporate raisin and dried cherry. Combine all ingredients and cook for 10 more minutes.
- Add rice, water and orange zest. Cook until boiling.
- Rice is ready when all water is absorbed.
- Serve with sweet cream, fruit jams, or nuts on the top.