Saturday, February 16, 2008

How to Make Plov

I arrived to Milara-odzha's house this morning and she was making plov. And so began our first cooking lesson in Russian and Tatar. Here's what you need to make what she calls "real Uzbek plov" - in which proportions are roughly 1 kg - 1 kg of most ingredients. Easy peasy.

250-300 grams sunflower or olive oil
1 kg meat of any kind
1 kg carrots
1/2-1 kg onions
(250 grams of peas, optional)
1 kg white rice
boiling and cold water, which you'll eyeball on a few occasions
"plov spices" - with barbaris (barberry), cumin, coriander, and peppercorns
salt to taste

(I did ask whether it was possible to make vegetarian plov. Her first response was "If there's no meat in it it's not plov." Then, she seemed to reconsider, and added that her husband has made varieties with apples or peppers or pretty much anything when there's no meat around, which get pretty close to plov.)

1. So, in a pot like the one pictured below, fry the onions and the meat in oil until brown. Then add carrots, and if you have them, peas. Stir it up.
2. Once it's all good and brown, add boiling water to cover the mixture. Add plov spices and salt by instinct. While you let that boil for a minute, give your rice a good washing in cold water to prevent it from getting soggy later on. Put the rice in a bowl, and pour boiling water to cover it. Let it sit like that for a few minutes.
3. Then, add the rice to plov mixture.
4. Throw in 1-2 heads worth of whole garlic cloves. (Also, you can throw in an entire garlic head at this stage and use it later as a garnish. Just cut the tough part off the bottom.) Cover the rice and plov mixture with "two fingers worth" of water. 
5. Stir it well, and then cover it. Let it cook on high while you have coffee.

6. Enjoy your coffee. 

7. Uncover the plov and check it out. The rice should be mostly cooked but not completely done. Pile it up "like a mountain" and then give it some air to breathe, as pictured below. Set the heat on low. Cover it again.

8. Get your pickled vegetables ready.

9. Uncover the mixture, fish out the meat and make sure it is cut into small enough bits. 

10. There you go, now you have plov. Unlike borscht, which is always better on the second day, plov is best enjoyed fresh, so eat up. No, really, have some. Oh, you like it? Have some more. And some more after that.


RWD said...

Oh man. I am totally making Plov for the next dinner party!

katkalo said...

me too...with apples and pears for sure..

lifeinside said...

hmm you can just buy em for free at the center rinak for 10 grieven :)