A pilaf is in essence, rice cooked in fat, often with a little chopped onion before being simmered in a flavourful (usually meat) stock. Additions such as spices, chicken or lamb, dried fruit and nuts are common and such embellishments make it a meal in itself.

The origin of the word "pilaf", which is the name most commonly used in English, can be traced to the Turkish "pilav" (often mistakenly thought to be Russian) and many other forms of the name such as pilau, pulao, plov and pilaff exist in different parts of the world.

All these names though, have their origin in the Persian polow. Pilaf and similar rice dishes are common in the Middle East, Central and South Asia (Biryani), Latin America (Arroz con Polo)  and the Caribbean