Pilaf is a rice dish (or wheat) popular in many countries around the world, combining grains with various broths, spices, meat, and vegetables.

Lastest Updated May 27, 2024
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Home » Dishes A-Z » Pilaf

Fact: Pilaf has thousands of versions made with various grains, with the Uzbek pilaf included in the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List in 2016.

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Basic Information

Pilaf: Basic Information


US: /piːˈlɑːf, ˈpiːlɑːf/;
UK: /ˈpiːlaʊ, piːˈlaʊ/

Alternative Name(s)

Plao, polao, pilav, pela, palaw, pallao, pilau, pelau, pulao, pulaav, pilov, palau, polov, palavu, plov, kurysh, palov, polo, polu, fulao, fulaaw, fulav, fulab, osh, aş, paloo, kürüch

Dish Type

Rice dishes


Main course


Lunch, dinner
Origin and Region

Pilaf: Origin and Region


Persia (modern-day Iran)

Continent’s Region

West Asia

Country’s Region

Nationwide Origin

Associated Region

Iran Map
A Deep Dive

Popular Pilaf Variations

Ingredients and Preparation

Pilaf: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients


Main Cooking Method

Stir-frying, steaming, or boiling

Preparation Process

Stir-frying cooked rice in hot fat with added ingredients
A Deep Dive

Pilaf: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

An ancient dish with roots in various cultures, spread widely during the Abbasid Caliphate




Plump, firm, and separate rice




Varies depending on the ingredients

Serving Style

In a bowl or plate

Serving Temperature








Special Diets



261 calories, according to data of Nutritionix per 1 cup of rice pilaf


Worldwide (Iran, India, Afghanistan, etc.)

Popular Similar Dishes

  1. Nasi Kebuli
  2. Fried Ice
  3. Nasi Lemak
  4. Nasi Goreng
  5. Paella
  6. Biryani

Popular Dining Area

Restaurants and vendors in the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, and more

Pilaf is an ancient dish where rice is simmered in stock or broth, with spices, vegetables, meat, or dried food included in the mix. Originating from India, the rice dish spread all the way to Spain during the Abbasid Caliphate era.

Pilaf Overview

Today, it’s a traditional dish in Middle Eastern, Balkan, Caribbean, and Central Asian cuisines. From Afghanistan to Uzbekistan, pilaf is a beloved staple.

Typically, the rice grains for pilaf are basmati or long grains, so the final product should have a plump, firm, and separate texture. To give it a rich hue, saffron is added, turning the rice a golden yellow.

The preparation often starts with stir-frying the rice in hot fat. However, some versions even involve steaming the rice after an initial boil.

Usually, each country has its own way of interpreting pilaf using available ingredients, leading to thousands of variations.

To get to know about pilaf, you should take advantage of the information regarding different types of pilaf, rice, grains, ingredients, and side dishes used to enjoy the rice dish. Afterward, discover the features of pilaf that set it apart from risotto and biryani.

Plus, the pros and cons, along with the answers to popular concerns relating to pilaf and similar specialties, are great to check out.

Key Points

  • Pilaf is an ancient dish that is popular in various regions around the world.
  • Pilaf typically uses basmati or long-grain rice, which is stir-fried in hot fat.
  • Each country has its unique take on pilaf, leading to thousands of variations based on available local ingredients and grains.
  • Pilaf differs from dishes like risotto and biryani in terms of origin, preparation method, and ingredients.

Pilaf Images

How to Make Pilaf?

To make pilaf, the general aim is to bring a light, fluffy, and separate texture into whatever grains you choose. Ideally, the process starts with rinsing the grains to remove any starch before cooking them in your choice of stock or water.

Add this stage, aromatic spices and herbs are also added to infuse a fragrant profile. Alternatively, some will stir-fry the grains briefly in hot fat before cooking them in liquid. Different cultures and regions will have numerous adaptations to pilaf after cooking the rice.

What Are The Different Types of Pilaf?

Although the concept of pilaf is rather simple, combining grain varieties with other ingredients to create the dish, there are many versions of this rice creation in different regions:

Calzone Pizza

Kabuli Palaw or Qabili Pulao

Considered a national dish of Afghanistan. Served with side dishes or part of a banquet

Roz Bukhari

Enjoyed in the Gulf States of the Arabian Peninsula alongside salata hara (a type of spicy tomato sauce). Usually use long grain rice for cooking

Armenian Pilaf

The pilaf is cooked in a red color fat result from cooking mixing with red pepper

Azerbaijani Plov

Consists of 3 elements, rice, gara, and herbs

Shah Pilaf

A traditional rice meal of Azerbaijan that mixes various ingredients
It has a thin layer of lavash flatbread at the bottom of the pot

Shirin Plov

Created in Baku capital, the dish comes with layers of rice
It has many seasonal dried fruits as toppings

Sheshryanch Plov

Known as six color plov, it is served with a sunny side up egg on top

Bengali Polao

Seen as a ceremonial food. Often garnished with fried onion (beresta) on top

Chicken Pulao

A ceremonial dish among the Bangladeshi Muslim population

Akhni Pulao

A ceremonial specialty of the Sylhet and Chittagong

Arroz Pilau

A Brazilian version of pilaf.

Arroz de Frango Desfiado

Translated to shredded chicken rice

Translated to chicken supreme rice
The dish has chicken but not shredded and is served with suprême sauce


A version of pilaf in Eastern Caribbean and other Caribbean regions

Trinidad and Tobago Pelau

A pilaf with layered rice, meat, and vegetables
The meat is often browned

Osh Palov

A staple pilaf in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Bukharan Jewish communities

Uyghur Polu

One of the most popular dish in the Uyghur region

Tuy Palovi

A traditional rice dish of Uzbekistan, used for weddings and cooked by men all the time

Kovurma Palov

A rice dish with meat being cut into pieces
The rice is cooked over low heat until it’s tender

Kovatok Palov or Oshi Toki

A rice specialty made with grape leaves, ground meat, and vegetables
The grape leaves are used for wrapping around the filling before adding to the pilaf