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Rice has spread out of China to other cultures, and to the Turkish culture.
Custom was to eat pilaf just before the dessert to clean the palate, accompanied by hosaf-compote of dried fruits, by the Ottomans, whereas it turned out to be eaten as a side dish served with meat or vegetable dishes or pulses nowadays.
Pilafs have possessed an essential part in the kitchens of the Palace and the populace, possible to be eaten both at lunch and at dinner. Rice pilaf with chicken and chick pea is so common that it is sold by street vendors. Schools present pilaf to graduates at commemoration days which are named "pilaf days". Turkish cuisine gives the same importance to pilaf as Western cuisines give to potatoes.
The basic ingredient in pilafs are either rice, bulgur (boiled and cracked wheat) or vermicelli. There are varieties of pilafs cooked by adding onion, tomato, vegetables, nuts, herbs, poultry, or meat or combinations of these but generally cooked plain, namely with butter, water and salt.
Rice pilaf is the most common variety. Cooking this pilaf suitably (a good pilaf is white, unsticky, scenty and odorful) is a measure of ability in cooking for the housewives. After pilaf is simmered, it is covered with a cotton cloth to absorb excess humidity. Pilafs are preferably made of long grain rice and shorter types reserved to be used in soups, stuffings and meatballs. Rural areas and Southeastern Anatolia prefer bulgur as it is easier to obtain and cheaper. Bulgur pilaf is cooked with onions and tomatoes and is eaten with yoghurt.
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