Definition of pilau in English:


(also pulao)


  • [mass noun] A Middle Eastern or Indian dish of rice (or sometimes wheat) cooked in stock with spices, typically having added meat or vegetables.

    • ‘The Indian lunch starts with soup, followed by a non-vegetarian paneer-based entree, one vegetable accompaniment, pulao or steamed rice and a choice of Indian bread such as naan or roti, and a dessert.’
    • ‘I decided to choose my old, reliable favourite, Chicken Madras with mushroom pilau.’
    • ‘There's also oxtail on the menu, as well as rice pilau, and, if you call ahead, the owner will make ginger beer.’
    • ‘Although most of the foods are traditional, new additions like Kashmiri naan and pulao have been added to the list in recent times.’
    • ‘Often when we tried to recreate dishes at home such as fragrant pilaus we had enjoyed at an Indian restaurant or the sushi rolls we devoured with saki at a sushi bar, it somehow just didn't translate.’
    • ‘It was dark by the time Mahmoud returned, and the others were sitting in the tiny yard behind Musa’s shop, eating the supper of pilau and yogurt his wife had laid out.’
    • ‘Without exception, all ceremonial occasions demand the preparation of enormous platters of food, such as pilau, a spiced rice, potato, and meat dish that caters to local tastes and culinary traditions.’
    • ‘Pilau is a delicious dish of rice spiced with curry, cinnamon, cumin, hot peppers, and cloves.’
    • ‘Festive rice dishes include pulao, a fragrant dish of mildly spiced rice with peas or dried fruits, and biryani, which consists of rice and meat marinated in yogurt and spices.’
    • ‘The main feature of a big meal is a rice pilau, which is rice cooked with meats or vegetables.’
    • ‘We enjoyed our meal with a plate of mushroom pilau, a fluffy plain naan and a deliciously different mixed vegetable bhagi - tasty food and plenty of it.’
    • ‘Serve with crispy potato cakes or a saffron pilau.’
    • ‘The pilau was served with fried onion and peas and was tasty, whereas the masala rice suffered from an overdose of black pepper.’


Early 17th century: Persian pulaw, pilāv, Hindi pulāv, from Sanskrit pulāka ball of rice, probably from Dravidian. Compare with pilaf.