A pilaf festival has taken place in Bokhtar, the capital of the southern Khatlon province.  Everyone who wanted might participate in the “Best Pilaf” contest.

A pilaf-eating competition was held at an open-air festival in Bokhtar last weekend.  More than ten  heavyweights participated in that competition. 

The contest was organized in several nominations, including the “Best Rise Producer”, “Best Pilaf” and “Best Cook.”

The Balkhi district was recognized as the best rice producer.  The Hamadoni district took the second place and the Dousti district was the third in this nomination.  

The Yovon district won in the “Best Pilaf” nomination, followed by the city of Bokhtar and the Danghara Subhon Saidov from the Qubodiyon district reportedly won in the “Best Cook” nomination.

Ali Muminov from the Nosir Khusrav district took the second place and Qurbon Gurezov from the Panj district was the third in this nomination.  

Pilaf is a dish in which rice is cooked in a seasoned broth.  In some cases, the rice may also attain its brown color by being stirred with pieces of cooked onion, as well as a mix of spices.  Depending on the local cuisine, it may also contain meat, fish, vegetables, pasta, and dried fruits.

Pilaf and similar dishes are common to Balkan, Middle Eastern, Caucasian, Central and South Asian, East African, Latin American and Caribbean cuisines.  It is a staple food and a national dish in Afghan, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bangladeshi, Balochi, Bukharan Jewish, Cretan, Indian, Iranian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Kurdish, Pakistani, Uyghur, Uzbek, Tajik and Turkish cuisines.

Central Asian, e.g. Tajik and Uzbek pilaf differs from other preparations in that rice is not steamed, but instead simmered in a rich stew of meat and vegetables called zirbak, until all the liquid is absorbed into the rice.  A limited degree of steaming is commonly achieved by covering the pot.  It is usually cooked in a deg (a type of large cooking pot used throughout Central) over an open fire.  The cooking tradition includes many regional and occasional variations.  Commonly, it is prepared with lamb, browned in lamb fat or oil, and then stewed with fried onions, garlic and carrots.  Chicken pilaf is rare but found in traditional recipes originating in Bukhara.  Pilaf is usually spiced with whole black cumin, coriander, barberries, red pepper, marigold, and pepper.  Heads of garlic and garbanzo beans are buried into the rice during cooking. Sweet variations with dried apricots, cranberries and raisins are prepared on special occasions.