Plov is a popular dish in Uzbekistan. I now know why. It's a rich and delectable dish with chunks of tender lamb, rice, carrots, onions and spices. It's like combining delicious risotto with scrumptious lamb stew.
Plov hails from ancient times and some of the steps in the cooking process - such as poking holes in the rice and submerging whole heads of garlic down into it, and the gentle pouring of the water over a wooden spoon - are unusual enough that at times I felt like I was performing an ancient cooking ritual.
I cooked this Plov the traditional way, with lamb, carrots, onions, and spices. But I broke with a couple of Uzbek traditions in adapting this recipe for Panning the Globe. Firstly, I didn’t use the rendered fat of a sheep’s tail to sauté my meat and vegetables. As delicious as I’m sure that is, I opted for Canola oil, which is more readily available. Secondly, I (a woman) cooked the meal, whereas in Uzbekistan the cooking of Plov is generally the man’s task.
You never know what you will learn while cooking Plov. I was curious about why the rice in this dish is rinsed several times and drained before cooking. Turns out rinsing rice washes away a lot of extra starch and leaves you with grains that cook up tender but don't stick together. That is the perfect consistency for Plov.
I also learned why many packages of rice don't suggest rinsing before cooking: there is a law in the USA which mandates that any rice that might be sold to a school and served to children must be fortified with vitamins and iron. The law also says that the rice must be packaged really well so no foreign matter gets in and thus nobody needs to rinse it, which would wash away all the added vitamins.
You can cut the carrots any way you want for this dish, but julienne is traditional and I think it’s kind of fun. Here’s how, if you don’t know: first cut the carrots into 2-inch lengths; in each piece, cut four flat thin slices lengthwise. Then you end up with flat rectangular pieces of carrot that you can easily cut into strips.
I can see why the Uzbeks consider Plov their king of dishes. My family was in awe when that mountain of Plov, topped with the whole garlic bulbs, was set before them.
This is Panning The Globe's first recipe post. I'm excited to find delicious recipes and culinary inspiration from every single country and to start I decided to spin the wheel and see where it landed. It landed on Uzbekistan. I knew nothing about the country or its food. I was thrilled to find this wonderful blog-worthy Uzbeki dish!
Plov is delicious, festive, and it taught me some things about cooking and about the world. I hope you enjoy it too!
Here's the lamb plov recipe. If you try this recipe I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I'd love to know what you think!Print