Pilav (Rus. Plov) is a staple Uzbekistan meal, hearty rice with chunks of meat, special spices and vegetables. There are a lot of variations of pilav rice, including recipes where rice is cooked with dried fruit, all covered with a thin sheet of pastry.
Traditionally plov is cooked in the open air, in the large metallic pot called “kazan” (which is similar to a cauldron). And an important traditional ingredient is sheep tail fat, in which the meat is fried (in Russian this fat is called “kurdyuchnyi zhir”, and it might be possible to buy it from the butchers selling lamb in the market).
Spices are very important for the flavour of pilav: cumin seeds (зира), coriander seeds (зерна кориандра), berberis. Dried basil can be used as well, and saffron to enrich the colour. If you can’t find some of the spices, in Russian shops they usually sell spice mixtures for plov that has all of them.
For extra flavour a whole garlic bulb is used (upper peel removed), which get simmered together with rice and then discarded.
What is good about pilav rice that this meal can last you for 2 days, if you choose to cook enough.
Fergan Pilav (plov) in a large frying pan
Mutton – 350 grams (fatty pieces)
Onion – 1
Carrot – 2 middle sized
Coarse salt – 3-4 teaspoons
Cumin seeds, coriander seeds, berberis – half a teaspoon each
Garlic – 1 bulb
Basmati rice – 350 grams
- Wash the rice thoroughly so the water is clear; cover with water and let the rice soak. Boil some water. Finely slice the onion into circles; slice the carrot into strips; remove the first peel from the garlic.
- In a frying pan, heat vegetable oil until it smokes. Stir-fry onion until golden. Stir-fry chunks of meat till crispy and reduce the heat to low.
Bring carrots, salt, spices and place garlic into the middle of the frying pan. Cover the ingredients with some boiled water. Cover the pan with a lid or a plate and let simmer for about 20 minutes (this bouillon is called zirvak).
- After 30 minutes, pour out the remains of water from the soaking rice. Put rice over the ingredients in the pan, even out. Add boiled water so it covers the rice by about 1 cm. Simmer the water out for about 15 minutes. (when the top layer of water is simmered away, you can make holes in the rice with a spoon).
- Once the water is evaporized, cover the pan with a lid or a plate and let stand for about 15 minutes. Gently mix, giving a shake, and serve.