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Traditional Uzbek Plov

by Florian
Uzbek Food - Plov

Although I’ve already posted plov recipes here and here, I wanted to go back to a more canonical version that I could submit on Ingredient Matcher. A plov that’s very traditional in its ingredients, and at the same time easy enough to prepare. No sous-vide lamb, no need to kill your own turkey, and no useless rituals à la Stalik.

A cousin of pilaf and pulao, plov (also called osh) is the national dish of Uzbekistan, and to a certain degree, Tajikistan. Almost every region has its own version, even if the differences can be quite subtle sometimes. Tashkent plov, for example, is made with yellow carrots, and can be served with kazy, horse sausage. The bases are more or less invariable, though. Expect all or a subset of the following: carrots, onions, garlic, currants, chickpeas, lamb, and a fair amount of animal fat. And of course, the essential Uzbek spices, cumin and coriander.

As for the rice, Uzbek markets sing the praises of “Alanga”, “Avangard”, or “Super Lazer”, typically ranging from medium to long grain. Since I’ve never seen any of these varietals outside of Central Asia, I would recommend using… whatever you want. Risotto rice will definitely give you better absorption, therefore a more flavorful result. Long grain American rice (not the par-boiled crap, please) will work, too, and is probably what you get at Taam Tov and Rego Park restaurants. 

Tashkent - Chorsu Bazaar - Rice

Roasted lamb shoulder
Yields 4 servings

6 g salt
1.5 g ground cumin
0.5 g ground coriander
0.5 g chili pepper
750 g boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 4 pieces
25 g olive oil
8 peeled garlic cloves

  • Mix the salt, cumin, coriander, and chili pepper in a container. Season the lamb with the spice mixture on all sides.
  • In an oven-proof pan over high heat, sauté the meat in the oil until brown on all sides.
  • Add the garlic, cover with a lid, and cook in a 120 C / 250 F oven for 3 hours.
  • Remove the lid, and cook for another 15 minutes. Take out of the oven, and let rest 10 minutes.
  • Reserve the meat and garlic. Transfer the cooking liquid to a plastic container to separate the fat from the jus.
Uzbek Food - Plov

Uzbek plov
Yields 4 servings

120 g risotto or long grain white rice
60 g currants
roasted lamb shoulder (meat, garlic, fat, and jus)
120 g onion, thinly sliced
0.5 g ground star anise
0.5 g ground cumin
0.5 g ground coriander
0.5 g ground chili pepper
120 g peeled carrots (various colors), cut into a julienne
120 g chickpeas
about 300 g vegetable stock

  • Rinse the rice under running water, then place into a bowl and mix with the currants. Reserve.
  • Separate the fat from the roasted lamb from the cooking liquid. Measure 60 g of fat and discard the rest (if you don’t have enough, use canola oil as a substitute when cooking the vegetables).
  • Heat 20 g of lamb fat in the wok. Add the onions, season with salt, and cook over high heat until brown.
  • Stir in the ground star anise, cumin, coriander, and chili pepper. Add another 20 g of lamb fat and the carrots, and cook until soft and golden brown, stirring regularly.
Uzbek Food - Plov
  • Add the rice and currants, the chickpeas, the lamb jus and the remaining 20 g of fat. Cook over medium heat without stirring, until the liquid is fully absorbed.
  • Add the vegetable stock, mix with a spatula, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer until the liquid is almost completely gone, stirring regularly. (Supposedly you don’t stir traditional plov, but in my experience not stirring is likely to produce unevenly cooked and seasoned rice.) Taste, rectify the salt, and add stock if necessary. The exact amount of stock that you’ll need depends on the rice variety. The rice should be completely cooked, and the liquid fully absorbed.
  • Arrange the meat and garlic on top of the dish, turn off the heat, cover with a lid, and let stand for about 15 minutes before serving.
Uzbek Food - Plov

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P4rt1 October 22, 2013 - 08:05

It looks great but it’s too complicated. The tajik plov is easier too make and the taste is amazing, too.

Florian October 22, 2013 - 08:08

Show me a recipe that’s simpler and tastes equally good, and I’ll take it 🙂

igor Boronenkov November 15, 2013 - 22:39

there are gazillions of different pilafs, no point to argue. I had good luck with basmati rice. I found most long-grain varieties are crushed to an extent and will produce a mushier pilaf, even after multiple washings. OK to use for “separated” bukhara/azeri style pilafs, though. Hi heat is very important, I had problems with home electric stoves. A friend even bought an inexpensive gas tripod burner (avail. at Asian/Viet stores) for his larger kazan. Impressive (and effective) at picnics.

igor Boronenkov November 15, 2013 - 22:58

I would very much recommend to study what this guy is doing: a brief excursion into your blog (thanks for all the info and travel photos !!!) suggests to me that you might have many shared interests in updating/adapting a pan-USSR conglomeration of local and “state” cuisines. No fancy modernistic stuff and no weird ingredients, all can be done at home. “Post-perestroika” fusion indeed. well step-by-step-illustrated and lends itself well to online translation, lots of analytical insight and artistic flair, too! Here’s a classic, though: Uzbek Fergana plov, he grew up there http://www.dunduk-culinar.ru/holiday/holiday-14.shtml

Florian November 18, 2013 - 22:38

Thanks for all the info, Igor!

igor Boronenkov November 15, 2013 - 23:16

hm, scratch away a bad “fusion” word, plz… 🙂 I meant it in a sense that more ingredients and techniques are avail. to home cooks there now, not to mention information.. i grew up in the 80s…


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