Uzbek National Dish: Palov

Submitted by

Umida Khikmatillaeva

Story behind this recipe

Watch it being made: (English) (Russian)

When a child is born or on wedding, or another festivity happens in an Uzbek family, palov is made to honor dear guests. An Uzbek invites guests to his home by saying: “I will make tea and and cook palov for you”. Palov is eaten before starting hard labor, at the end of a good deed, and on holidays palov is certainly prepared in every Uzbek family.

Palov is the highest point of Uzbek culinary art. It comprises such complex of technologic processes as friying, boiling, and stewing.

There is a legend about origin of the name “palov-osh”. “In the ancient times a prince fell in love with a girl of matchless beauty, however from a poor family. However the loving suffers a lot from his inability to marry a poor craftsman’s daughter. He suddenly lies down and miserably remains there for several days, eating nothing. The king invites Abu Ali Ibn Sino (Avisenna) and asks him to determine his son’s illness and cure him. The youth tells his grief to nobody. However, the great physician, upon through examination, determines deficiency of the necessary substances in his organs. The scientist finds out that the reason of starvation is his falling in love. There were two ways to heal this decease: one way to marry him with his beloved, and another one- to feed him nutritious “palov-osh” made of seven different ingredients. After saying “Cook palov-osh for the sick”, the great physician left the note explaining its name. “Palov-osh consists of seven different ingredients: P-piyoz (onion), A-ayoz (carrots or quince), L-lahm (meat), O-oliyo (oil), V-vet (salt), O-Ob (water), Sh-sholi (rice). If to connect these letters, the word combination “palov-osh” emerges.

Nowadays palov is prepared with the addition of raisins, peas, hot pepper, black pepper, cumin, barberries and a number of other ingredients.

Source: “The art of Uzbek cuisine”.


Morning Palov (Pilaff)

The ritual of morning palov holds during Hatna-Kilish, wedding or making mention ceremonies (after 20 days and 1 year from the day of death). Firstly the organizers appoint the time and date of this ritual and then send the invitations to relatives, friends and neighbours.

In the evening before Morning palov, holds another ritual called "sabzi turgar" -or carrots chopping, for this ritual invite only relatives, after they have finished with carrots, they are invited at the table for dinner. While eating the oldest persons distribute the obligations between participants for morning palov ritual. Morning palov must be ready by the end of morning praying - "Bomdod namozi", and its participants will become the first guests. By the end of the morning praying the sounds of Uzbek national musical instruments notify that the ritual of morning palov has already started.

The guests take the places around the tables and make "Fatiha" - the kind of prayer or wishing of all the best. After serves tea with Lepeshkas (round bread), and later Palov in "Lyagans" -large dishes, one for two persons. Then the guests finished, they make "fatiha" again, thank the hosts and leave the house. Then the man quickly clean the tables and serve palov for the next guests. Usually this ritual takes 2-3 hours and accompanied with national music, performed by musicians. At the end, the hosts gift to the most honourable guests Chapans - national robes.

For make mention rituals the musicians are not invited, the tables serves very neat, before and after palov everybody mention the dead person and read "Sury" - the topics from Koran.

The ritual of Morning palov served only by men.


A note about pilav is written by my friend Malika Sharipova in Uzbekistan. She has a great blog in English:


2 ¼ lb rice,
1 ¼ lb beef,
1 ¼ lb carrots,
5 onions,
1 ½ cups vegetable oil,
salt, cumin, barberries, raisins and whole black pepper.

Measuring units


Cooking Instructions

Heat oil. Add sliced onions and sear in oil until reddish-brown. Cut meat in pieces and saute with onions. After a few minutes put in carrot strips and cook until golden. Add water, salt, spices and stew for 20-25 minutes. Add rice and more water, just 1-1.5 cm above surface of rice. Cook uncovered until water evaporates. Cover and cook on low heat 20-25 minutes.