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Are pilau and risotto the same dish with different names?

No, there is very little similarity between risotto and pilau dishes, although both are savory and often combined with a mixture of meat or fish, spices and vegetables. The Italian risotto is authentically made with a long, large-grained Italian rice called superfino, a variety that includes the arborio and canaroli rices, though a fino rice called vialone, a long and tapering grain, is also used. These can be found in well-stocked delicatessens and some supermarkets.

Risottos are cooked in a heavy-based pan to which simmering stock is added a little at a time. The rice is stirred continually as it cooks so that it absorbs the liquid, becoming creamier and stickier as the starch in the grain is released. The risotto is cooked when the rice grains have swollen to about three times their original size and are still slightly crunchy in the center.

Pilau is Indian in origin although many Middle Eastern and North African countries cook pilaf, which is similar. The rice (usually basmati) for a pilau or pilaf should be washed and then left to soak in plenty of cold water for an hour or so before cooking to remove the excess starch and soften the grains, so that they do not stick together. The rice is first fried in butter or oil, then as soon as the liquid is added the rice is left undisturbed until the grains are cooked through.

Pilaf can be cooked either in a pan on top of the stove, or in a casserole dish in the oven, with the ingredients arranged in layers so that they cook evenly. In either case, use a pan with a tight-fitting lid.

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04:43:34 on 09/02/08 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -