Saturday, 27 June 2009

Plov Plov Plov!!

Plov is Uzbekistan's national dish, and can be found in most restaurants across the country. The key ingredients of rice, meat (usually mutton), carrot and gallons of cotton oil are universal, but we found some regional varitions which added chickpeas and/or raisins to the mix. In Bukhara we were lucky enough to go to a family home to see how this evocative dish is made before feasting on a generous spread of soup, salad, bread, nuts and, of course, plov. So, here's how it's done...

Step One: simmer the meat, chopped carrot and onion in a lot of oil (cotton oil if possible) for about an hour, until very tender. This should ideally be done over a charcoal burner.

Step Two: gather the other key ingredients: washed rice (very like risotto or paella rice), cooked chickpeas and raisins, along with some salt. Mix the chickpeas and raisins with the cooked carrots and meat.

Step Three: spoon the rice on top of the rest of the mixture, but don't stir in - the rice should form a seal on top of the rest of the ingredients.

Step Four: cover with a tight lid and leave to cook for another 45-60 minutes, stirring towards the end to loosen up the rice and mix in the other ingredients.

Serve in generous portions, with bread and salad as accompaniments. Wash it all down with surprisingly decent Uzbek red wine (dry not sweet) and try not to think about what all that oil is doing to your waistline!

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