Recipe of the week: Plov

30 March 2019 by
Recipe of the week: Plov

Plov (or pilau) needs no introduction. Originating in India and Persia, this fragrant meat and rice dish became widespread in central Asia and the Caucasus and has myriad variations.

The type of plov popular in Russia is of the Kazakh and Uzbek varieties. Coming from a city that is only a five-hour drive away from Kazakhstan (a distance that by Russian standards means "just around the corner"), I've been lucky to try some of the most wonderful plovs made with authentic fragrant Asian spices.

The preparation of plov is a sacred ceremony, albeit a sexist one, as traditionally only men are allowed to make it. However, the plov I remember the most was made by my aunt, in a giant cast-iron kazan (the traditional cookware for this dish) on an open fire.

The best part of the dish for me is the indescribably rich and sweet garlic that is cooked whole in the very middle of the kazan.

If you can make plov on an open fire, please do, but this recipe works just fine for an indoor kitchen using a cast-iron casserole dish.

Serves 6-8

100ml mild vegetable oil

800g diced boneless lamb shoulder

2 large onions, thinly sliced into semi-circles

3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into batons

1 large garlic bulb

2tsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly crushed

1tsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed

½tsp chilli powder

½tsp freshly ground black pepper

1tbs dried barberries

A few saffron threads

1tbs salt, or more to taste

Wash the rice under tepid water until the water runs clear of starch, then soak in warm water while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Heat up the oil in a cast-iron casserole dish and fry the lamb over a medium heat until it's golden on all sides, stirring occasionally. This should take 10-15 minutes.

Add the onions and carrots and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover with boiling water so that the meat and vegetables are fully submerged - the exact volume of water depends on the size of your casserole.

Place the garlic bulb in the middle of the casserole and add the rest of the spices, the barberries and the salt. Do not cover, but bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat to a minimum and simmer for 30-40 minutes. This rich golden stock is called zirak, in which the rice will be cooked at the next stage.

Drain the rice and add to the casserole in a layer on top, without mixing the contents of the casserole dish. Gently submerge the rice in the zirak using a flat slotted spoon. If there isn't enough liquid, top it up with more boiling water so that the rice is covered with at least 1cm of liquid. You can also add more salt at this stage.

Firmly close the lid and cook over a low heat for 25-30 minutes.

If you notice that the plov is only bubbling away in the centre, gently push the rice from the edges towards the middle. Serve upside down on a platter of seasonal vegetables and soft herbs.

Recipe taken from Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen, by Alissa Timoshkina >>

Get The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!).

Continue reading

You need to create an account to read this article. It's free and only requires a few basic details.

Already subscribed?

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking