Uzbek Rice Pilaf (Плов)

This recipe is FANTASTIC. The meat falls off the bone, the rice smells like heaven... I highly recommend trying this one out! It's great as dinner party entree, a fancy night in, or hearty meal that will leave leftovers for the rest of the week (if you're strong-willed)!

Some beautiful images of traditional Uzbek pilaf, or plov, to get you in the mood for food:

You Will Need...

- 2 cups rice (we used Jasmine Rice)

- about 2 lbs of meat. The recipe recommends cuts from lamb shoulder. It's better if there's fat (we just used some lamb steak from Whole Foods... whatever we could find! As long as there are bones!) you can also do pork, chicken, or duck (but it's SOOO much better with lamb)

- 3 medium/large onions

- 4 large carrots

- 1 head of garlic

- 1/2 cup oil (this recipe used sunflower, but any oil works... except olive oil)

- 1 tbsp salt

- 2 tsp cumin (we used cumin seeds and ground cumin and mixed it)

- 1 tsp coriander (can be ground or mash seeds)

- 1 tsp ground black pepper

- Optional: cayenne pepper

- 1-2 tsp turmeric (to taste)

- about 1 liter of boiling hot water


1) A few hours before cooking (preferably in the morning), wash rice 10 times until the water runs clear. Pour warm water (3x the amount of rice) and let soak.

2) Clean meat from chewy pieces and other icky stuff. Cut 2 x 2 inch pieces, leaving the bones in.

3) Slice onions into thin half circles

4) Slice carrots into thin strips, about three/four inches long (slicing is all done by hand)

5) Peel off the outer layer of the garlic head without disturbing the shape

6) Take a big pot with high walls and a thick bottom (lol) and heat the oil until very hot

7) Add meat gradually, making sure to sizzle on all sides until brown without fully cooking the meat! (separate it into batches)

8) Remove meat from the pan and place in a separate bowl, covered, leaving oil inside the pot

9) Cook onions in bubbling oil (you can reduce the heat a little bit), fry until gold/light brown, stirring constantly--don't burn the onions!

10) Remove onions from pot, squeezing excess oil, and set aside

11) Reduce the heat, add all the carrots, frying until softened

12) Add salt and spices to carrots, continuing to fry. Turn on the tea kettle.

13) When the carrots become golden and the oil becomes orange, add meat (+the juice) and fried onion

14) Mix well and make a hole to bury the garlic head (stem up). Pat down to level.

15) Pour hot water until about 3-4 cm (1-2 inches) above the mixture.

16) Cook on high heat, letting boil (a lot!) then reduce the heat to medium-low. Afterward, it has to bubble, but not crazy boil (slow boil) for about an hour. Don't cover the pot.

a) ideally, the mixture should be almost translucent and a layer of fat comes on top

17) Boil another pot of water and keep ready. Try the mixture--it should smell good! It can be a little oversalted but don't worry because the rice will help. DO NOT MIX. If you think it's burning from the bottom, lower the heat.

18) When the mixture has almost completely evaporated, drain the rice which you set aside. Put the rice on top of the mixture in heaps, and level on the top. NO MIXING.

19) SLOWLY pour boiling water on top, without diluting the rice (you can use a spatula to keep everything steady). Pour about ¾ of an inch higher than the rice, but the rice should still be in one compact layer.

20) Turn heat on VERY high. The water should boil quickly. If there's a place where water isn't boiling, that means there's too much rice in there. Level it out with a spatula.

21) As soon as it's boiling everywhere, lower the heat a little bit.

a) The oil comes to the surface and while the water evaporates, the oil sinks back into the rice. DON'T LEAVE THE STOVE

22) ^this process takes about 12-15 minutes, no more, no less. Lower the heat gradually. When there is no water on the surface, but it's bubbling somewhere inside, you can move the whole mixture towards the center (without mixing!!) enough to let the water evaporate

23) Turn heat on low -> if it burns, it'll be in this step, so DON'T LET IT BURN.

24) When you don't see the water at the bottom, turn off the heat. Cover with lid and leave it alone for 15-20 minutes.

25) At this moment you can cut an easy salad (see tomato-onion salad recipe!)

It's ready!

If you have a big serving plate, you can turn it over so rice is at the bottom and meat + veggies at the top. Garlic head can go wherever for decoration. If you're not fancy like us, scoop rice first then add meat from bottom on top.

***This recipe is from a Russian political website: One of the bloggers, Serguei Parkhomenko offered his version of this popular Central Asian dish!***

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