,,One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating.
And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends. ,,
-Laurie Colwin

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pilau, Pilaf, Risotto, Paella or Jambalaya

I cooked a Jambalaya for some friends, who commented that it was a lot like paella, and some thought is like pilaf, but I know risotto is very similar… so I started to get for you the story of Jambalaya origin. Pilau, Pilaf, Risotto, Paella or Jambalaya- is a dish in which rice is cooked in a seasoned broth and depending on the local cuisine, it may also contain a variety of meat and vegetables. Fried rice in Asian cuisines is similar dish who take the cue from pilaf.
All this recipes start with a similar process. The grain is sautéed in oil, fat or butter to brown it slightly. To fully cook the dish, wine and stocks are added, which add different flavor to the dish. Depending on recipe and region, the grains are different from long grain rice to risotto and this make the dish to have different consistency. A variety of vegetables, seafood, poultry or meat may be added too, so it can be a whole and filling meal or a side dish.
This rice based dish -called ‘’pilau’’ originated from the Persian Empire, always begins by first browning the rice in butter or oil before cooking it in stock.
In India they're highly spiced it with masala, chili and coriander.
In Greek cuisine, ‘’piláfi’’ is soft rice that has been boiled in a meat stock then finished with lemon juice and melted butter.
In East Europe, ‘’pilaf’’ is made with chicken or sausages and finished with a bunch of fresh herbs. Left over meats and vegetables are use very often as well.
In Italian cuisine ’’risottos’’ are made using short-grain rice, where stock is being added gradually while the rice is stirred constantly. The cooking technique leads the rice to release its starch, giving the finished dish a creamy texture and of course adding Italian flavors to it like parmesan, mascarpone, sundried tomato …etc.
In Spain ‘’paella’’ (a wide, shallow pan with looped handles) famous rice dish is a free-style combination of meat, seafood and vegetables. The key ingredients include saffron and olive oil.
If you mix into any of these dishes some dry apricots, cumin, almonds and fresh chopped coriander, you have a Malaysian pilaf.
Exploration of the “New World” brought the dish to the America. Each culture has created its own version of pilafs.
It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World, where saffron was not available. Tomatoes became the substitute for saffron and the Jambalaya was born. Additions at the end of cooking in all of these dishes can include a bit of butter or cream.
Here are some samples of this dishes that I made. Please feel free to explore more and add your favorite flavor to it.
Risotto with wild mushrooms.
Jambalaya with bbq beaver and coleslaw salad.  
Safron risotto with salmon and grill lime.
Black ink risotto with tiger praws. 
You must work with the correct quantity of liquid in all of these recipes.
I work on the basis of one part of rice for two and half the quantity of stock.
Here is one of my recipe for shellfish risotto (or jambalaya or pilaf, or whatever you want to call it)
Ingredients for 4-6 people:
2 white medium onions, chopped
1 liter fish broth or stock
250 g mussels, steamed open
500 g mixed fresh seafood, shrimps, scallops and calamari
400 g can crush tomatoes
100 ml olive oil
400 g Arborio rice
100 ml dry white wine
4 teaspoons butter
100 g shaved parmesan cheese
bunch of chopped parsley or basil for garnish
salt and black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a heavy braising pan, add a spoon of butter and chopped white onions and sauté until translucent. Add the rice and sauté, stirring continuously, for about a minute. Add the white wine and stir until it evaporates.
Low the heat and begin ladling the fish stock over the rice. Add the can of crushed tomatoes. Cook the rice and add some more ladles of fish stock only when the previous one has been absorbed. Repeat till rice is almost cooked.
When the rice is almost cooked, add the seafood. Be careful not to add the seafood too early as the heat of the rice will cook it in just a few moments. Prawns and scallops need only to turn opaque to be cooked and the mussels only need warming. Finish by adjusting the salt and pepper and add a knob of butter and parmesan cheese. I use the mussels in the top of risotto for a finishing touch.
Garnish with chopped fresh herbs and parmesan and serve immediately.
Enjoy! Pin It Now!


  1. Thank you for researching and writing about this topic. I've often wondered about the difference.


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