I know, I know, this blog is already filled with plov recipes. I published my first Uzbek plov entry almost eight years ago here, then I used it as stuffing for a roasted leg of lamb here. I tried a version with wild turkey, raisins, and butternut squash here, then went back to a traditional recipe here. I even made a vegetarian morel plov to go with kebabs here.
But after my Uzbek Adventures series, I feel I can use my experience in the field to create the perfect plov, a blend of several regional recipes that takes my favorite elements from each one. If Stalik Khankishiev wrote a whole book on plov (and many more chapters in other books), surely there’s room on these blog pages for my latest signature dish!
My motivation also comes from the discovery of a store that sells a number of plov ingredients that I’ve thus far found very difficult or impossible to find. Located in Middle Village, Queens, Emir Halal Foods is a one-stop shop for kazy (made with either beef, chicken, or turkey; no horse meat), barberries, wild cumin, and Dev-Zira rice. And the best part is that they deliver in New York City and ship anywhere in the continental US!
So here’s what makes Food Perestroika’s signature plov:
- Just as in a Tashkent plov (see: Central Asian Plov Center), I use a lot of ingredients compared to the wide-spread traditional recipe. The meat includes not just some random cooked lamb, but two specific cuts (shanks and riblets), and kazy. There are also quail eggs (colored with saffron), chickpeas, and barberries. No yellow carrots of the kind typical of Tashkent, just because they can be hard to find here, and orange carrots work just as well anyway.
- This was my first time cooking with Dev-Zira rice, though I’d eaten it several times. Its darker color may be slightly less visually appealing, but there’s something to be said for a medium-grain rice with a good liquid absorption factor — a plov made with short-grain rice such as Arborio or Bomba can be delicious, but it looks less like a plov. Since Dev-Zira is a variety grown mostly in Kyrgyzstan, it’s generally used only in Fergana plov (on account of Fergana being close to the Kyrgyz border).
- I love Urfa pepper, a chili pepper grown in the Urfa region of Turkey, which has a unique flavor that’s both smoky and raisin-like. It’s not Uzbek, and I don’t care! You’ll find it in many spice stores, or online here.
- Plov is often accompanied with achik-chuchuk, a salad of sliced tomatoes and thinly sliced onions, seasoned with salt and pepper and sometimes augmented with cucumbers, hot peppers, or herbs. So I’m including my own achik-chuchuk recipe, which I serve in the same plate along with the plov.
Yields 4 servings
1 large lamb shank (about 400 g)
250 g lamb riblets
15 g canola oil
200 g white wine
500 g water
220 g beef kazy (in one piece)
- Season the lamb shanks and riblets with a generous amount of salt. Heat the canola oil in a pot over high heat, then sauté the meat until golden brown on all sides.
- Add the white wine, and reduce by half. Add the water, bring to a simmer, then transfer entire pot to a 120 C / 250 F oven, and cook uncovered for 2 1/2 hours.
- Remove the riblets from the pot, and reserve. Flip the lamb shank, add the kazy, and cook in the oven for another 1 1/2 hours, flipping the shank and the kazy after an hour.
- Take all the meat out of the pot, and keep in a bowl covered with plastic wrap, together with the lamb riblets.
- Separate the cooking liquid from the rendered fat (using a gravy fat separator) and reserve both.
Hard-boiled quail eggs
Yields 4 servings
750 g water
10 g kosher salt
0.25 g saffron
4 quail eggs
- In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, and stir in the salt and saffron. Keep the water simmering over low heat.
- Gently lower the quail eggs into the water using a skimmer (the eggs are very fragile), and cook for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the eggs to a quart container, fill with cold water, cover, and shake vigorously — this makes the eggs much easier to peel. Peel, and reserve in a bowl with some of the saffron water for at least 1 hour.
Yield 4 servings
180 g Dev-Zira rice
45 g rendered lamb fat (or canola oil)
80 g onion, thinly sliced
1.8 g ground wild cumin
1 g ground coriander
1 g ground Urfa pepper flakes
120 g peeled carrots, cut into a julienne
lamb cooking liquid
60 g chickpeas, rinsed under cold water
10 g barberries
1 head garlic
lamb shank, lamb riblets and kazy
- In a bowl, soak the rice in warm water for 30 minutes, changing the water once mid-time. Strain and reserve.
- In a wok over medium-high heat, heat 25 g of the rendered fat. Add the onions, and cook until light brown but not burnt.
- Season with salt, add the wild cumin, coriander, and Urfa pepper, and stir. Add the carrots with the remaining 20 g of rendered fat, and cook for a couple minutes, stirring regularly.
- Weigh the lamb cooking liquid, and add enough water to reach 540 g. Pour into the wok, and bring to a simmer.
- Reduce to low heat, add the chickpeas, barberries, and whole head of garlic, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the lamb shanks, lamb riblets, and the rice on top. Cover and simmer, still over low heat, for about 45 minutes, until the liquid is fully absorbed. During the cooking, stir the rice gently a couple of times without disturbing the layers.
- Stir the plov to combine the rice, meat, and vegetables. If the rice isn’t done, add a little bit of water. Slice the kazy and add to the wok along with the quail eggs. Cover, and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving dish, keeping the lamb, kazy, quail eggs, and garlic on top. You can pick the lamb meat from the bones if desired.
Yields 4 servings
175 g cocktail tomatoes
175 g heirloom tomatoes
25 g small yellow peppers (hot or sweet, up to you!)
25 g peeled white onion
12 g olive oil
- Quarter the cocktail tomatoes. Slice the heirloom tomatoes, and cut the slices into thirds. Thinly slice the peppers, and discard the seeds. Slice the onion very thinly, using a mandoline.
- Transfer all the vegetables to a bowl. Add the olive oil, season with salt, and toss. Reserve at room temperature.
Yields 4 servings
- In each bowl, serve some rice and lamb, one slice of kazy, one quail egg, and one or two peeled garlic cloves, covering about 2/3 of the bowl, and garnish with some achik chuchuk in the remaining 1/3. Serve immediately!