Uzbek Plov; A Traditional and Delicious Food from the Central Asian Cuisine
For those who like to utilize their pressure cookers, I present a very easy way of making Uzbek Plov (a.k.a. Uzbek Palov, Pilav, Pulav, Pplof, Osh). There are many recipes of Uzbek Palov on the Internet. Palov is a traditional Uzbek main course food. If you ever visit Uzbekistan this is probably the most common food you will encounter.
Let’s not forget that every region in Uzbekistan has its own version of Palov. Except for basic ingredients, I believe that every recipe should be altered according to your taste. If you do not like certain ingredients, you should always feel comfortable to either swap them or omit them without feeling any pressure.
Rice is the most important part of any Palov. Living abroad creates its own difficulties in finding the right and essential ingredients for any ethnic kitchen. I am currently using Saleem Caravan, Super Golden Basmati rice, product of India. It can be found in many international markets. We buy it from a local Turkish store. Some of the kinds of rice I tried from local grocery stores were Japanese rice “Botan”, Italian rice “Arborio” and Turkish rice “Baldo”. These are the closest I could get to our Uzbek rice. As I mentioned above, every region has their own special Palov. The Tashkent version of Palov calls for yellow carrots. Aside from not being able to find yellow carrots where we live in Turkey. But if you can find yellow carrots, go ahead and try to use those. They take a little longer to cook than their other counterparts though.
• 1.5-2 kilograms of fresh Lamb meat
• 2 medium onions
• 5 medium size carrots
• 3.5 cups of rice (Baldo rice)
• 1 tsp of ground cumin
• 0.5 tsp of whole cumin
• 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tsp of salt
• 6.5 cups of water (previously boiled)
• chickpeas and garlic bulb (optional)
• 200 ml of canola oil
Cut the meat into 2×2″ cubes. Slice the onions in 1/4″ half circles.
Once the meat and onions are ready, heat the pressure cooker on medium high heat + heat the oil and start frying the meat. Add salt, ground cumin and black pepper.
Fry until slightly brown on all sides and add onions. Fry onions along with the meat until onions are soft and golden brown. Add all the water, mix it and close the lid of the pressure cooker. Cook on medium-high heat for about 15-20 minutes. If you are using beef then you should give it a good 30 minutes to cook well.
Meanwhile, prepare the carrots for the next step. Clean, wash and julienne carrots like in the above pictures.
Once the time is up for the pressure cooker, open and empty it to another large nonstick pot (or Kazan) and put the pot back on the stove (medium heat). There will be no need to wait for the water to boil, since it is going to be pretty boiled up in the pressure cooker :) Place the carrots evenly on top of the meat and onions, but do not mix anything. Leave the pot like this for 15 minutes on medium heat.
Wash the rice well at least 2-3 times. Drain the water and using a spatula place the rice over the carrots evenly. The water that was initially added into the pressure cooker should be enough for the whole process. But if the water does not cover the rice (1 inch above) feel free to add a little more water.
All Uzbek recipes let the water evaporate with the lid open. It takes awful a lot of time and I do not find it necessary. Close the lid of the pot and in medium-high heat let it stand for 10 minutes or until the rice absorbs the water.
Check every 2 minutes, because you do not want the bottom of the Palov burnt. In about 8 minutes, flip the top layer of the rice to keep the rice evenly moist. Once the water is absorbed, make a dome of rice and sprinkle whole cumin on top. Lower the heat to 2 (low), close the lid again and keep it that way for another 10 minutes.
In 10 minutes remove the lid and try the rice. If it is well-cooked, then mix the ingredients well. Not that fast! :) If you used garlic, this is the time to excavate it. Some people also like to take the meat out, cut it in smaller pieces and put on top of the Palov. So, mix the content of the Palov together well. If the rice feels a little undercooked, do not hesitate, sprinkle some water and close the lid again for 5 minutes (or the desired amount).
Serve it in a Lagan (traditional Central Asian large plate) and put meat and garlic in the middle. Garlic comes out easily. It is should be well-cooked and delicious.