Plov is a delicious meal prepared with beef or lamb, rice, carrots and onions. Make this authentic Uzbek plov if you’d like to experience the most popular Central Asian comfort food!
Yay first blog post! When I thought of what recipe to share first, I knew it had to be my family’s plov dish. I’m sure many of you have made it lots of times and enjoy it too. We grew up with my dad making it for almost every birthday party, holiday, church event and fundraiser. He even brings his kazan to our annual camping trip at the beach and so that we can enjoy it outdoors! Uzbek plov is a great party dish for holidays, birthday celebrations, and large groups!
Plov – a symbol of hospitality
This dish reminds me of when we visit my family in California. Grandma and Grandpa always make us the best plov in their warm and welcoming little home. We all squeeze in around their kitchen table and eat it with salad and lots of green tea served in beautiful hand-painted tea bowls. I really need to go visit them again soon.
Uzbekistan is home to hundreds of styles of plov. There are as many variations as there are ways to say it – plov, pilaf, palov… I have seen so many different toppings including pomegranate seeds, dried barberries, and chickpeas. My parents grew up in Fergana making this classic version for every gathering. Simple ingredients and no extra fuss. If you would like to learn more about the history of this amazing dish, check out this awesome article here! http://uzbek-travel.com/about-uzbekistan/facts/plov/
I practiced a few trials in my kitchen, switching between calling my dad, grandpa, and grandma on the phone telling me all the different tips and tricks to get it right! So this is definitely a fusion between two favorite recipes.
It’s all about the technique
The main ingredients in any plov recipe are five things – rice, meat, carrots, cumin, and onions. Regardless of what kind of meat, spices and toppings you prefer, the technique is your key to success. The rice to water ratio has to be just right. Too much water- it ends up being sticky like a risotto. Not enough water will result in dry uncooked rice.
Also a very important note – the rice must be gently spooned from the sides of the pot to form a mound before the final step. This way the rice doesn’t stick to the sides and overcook. Lastly, do not be tempted to mix the plov before it rests at the end. All of these notes are found below in each step. If you follow them closely, you should get a great result. Be sure to post a comment letting me know how it turned out!
Authentic Uzbek Plov with Beef
- You will yield the best results with a cast aluminum cooking pot (kazan). If you don’t own one, use a dutch oven or a heavy bottomed soup pot. Make sure it has a lid
- Shallow dish or plate that will fit inside of the pot.
- grapeseed oil
- 5 cups medium grain white calrose rice Botan brand calrose rice
- 2 lbs top sirloin steak or meat of choice
- 10 medium carrots, julienned into little matchsticks
- 3 onions
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 whole cayenne or any hot peppers (optional)
- 1 head of garlic, top 1/4 inch tip of the crown sliced off (to expose garlic flavor into the broth)
- 7 2/3 cups boiling water
- Trim excess fat off the meat, pat it dry with paper towel, and and chop into 1 inch cubes.
- Preheat your pot to high heat. Preheating it ensures that the meat will brown properly and not juice out. Separate your raw meat into two batches. Once it’s hot, add in 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil. Throw in the first half of the meat and sear uncovered for 7 min over high heat until meat is browned, stirring often to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Take the first batch of browned meat out and set aside. Brown the second batch of raw meat. Put all of the meat back into the pot.
- Add another 1/4 cup of grapseed oil and the chopped onions, and sauté onions with the browned meat on medium-high heat until the onions are completely caramelized, stirring often. This could take 7-15 minutes. Make sure they don’t burn or stick to the bottom.
- Add your carrots to the pot and sauté everything together for 3 more minutes. Add your salt, cumin, paprika, and stir together. Lay the head of garlic and hot peppers underneath the cooked ingredients, to prevent it from floating to the top later.
- Add the 7 and 2/3 cups of boiling hot water to the pot. Let it all come to a boil, and simmer on medium-low heat for exactly 30 minutes. After this step, set your pot aside from the burner.
- Rinse your 5 cups of rice with cold water in a sieve under the sink faucet until it runs crystal clear. It could take up to 10 minutes to rinse it completely clean of white starch, which crucial to prevent starchy sticky rice. Drain it well, until it stops dripping.
- Gently add the washed and drained rice over the top of the ingredients. Do not stir the rice too much, it has to lay on top of the other ingredients. Poke a few holes through the rice and water layer with a wooden stick or end of a spatula. This ensures that the water reaches the bottom of the pot.
- Let your rice come to a gentle boil and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the top water layer mostly disappears into the rice. Poke some more holes through to the bottom to allow the steam to escape to the surface.
- Now gently spoon the rice from the walls of the pot into a mound shape and then again poke 8-10 holes through the rice to let the steam escape. Try to do this as gently as possible because the rice does best with less touching. Scooping it away from the sides ensures that the rice does not overcook on the edges.
- Place your shallow dish or plate on top of the mound of rice. and close the pot with the lid. This process prevents the moisture from leaving the rice and collecting on the inside of the lid. We want a nice, evenly cooked rice. Make sure the lid fits properly so no steam escapes.
- Cook on low heat for 30 minutes. Open the lid and take the shallow dish off the plov. Do not mix the plov! Wipe the moisture off the lid with paper towel (careful, its hot) and immediately cover your pot with the lid again and let it rest off the burner for 20 more minutes.
- Remove the garlic head and hot peppers. (Serve those on the side.)
- Now carefully empty the plov onto a very large serving platter and combine the meat with rice using a gentle folding motion with the spatula. Take it easy here, not to overmix it. Take a fork and gently fluff it up. Enjoy with a simple tomato onion salad or a pickle.