Wednesday, February 3, 2021

ICSC Member Blog: Cooking Central - Asian Plov

There are no options around Ann Arbor (or, in fact, Michigan) to try any Central Asian cuisine. Thus, I had to learn on my own how to cook some dishes that are typical in my home country Kazakhstan. One of them is plov, which in the US might be more known as “pilaf” or “palaw” or something similar. There are different variations, some are more common to Central Asia, some – to Middle East Asia, some – to East Africa. The recipe here is the one I came up with based on what is cooked in my family, online recipes and what is available in the grocery stores.

Ingredients (for 4-5 persons):
  • 0.5-0.75 cup of oil (sunflower or olive, the former is preferred)
  • 2 big or 5-6 small onions
  • 1 lb of meet (in Kazakhstan we prefer to use sheep meet, but here I have to use either beef or chicken. In fact, I heard that also fish is used in Western Kazakhstan.)
  • 3-4 long or 6-8 small carrots
  • 1 or 1.5 cup of white rice (can be long- or medium-grain)
  • 5-6 cups of boiled water (should be boiling when you add it)
  • Can of garbanzo beans
  • 4-5 garlics
  • Salt and spices (I use black pepper and cumin, but it is really up to you)

Cut onions, meat and carrots into squares of 0.5-inch-side (can be a bit larger or smaller). Skin garlics. Put pot on high heat and add oil. After 1-2 minutes add onions and let them fry for another 3-4 minutes.

After that put meat (I used beef this time), add salt and spices (depends on you how much, keep in mind that you need to add more later), mix and stir fry everything in pot until meat doesn’t look raw on its surface.

After that add carrots, but do not mix, let carrots lay on top of meat. At this moment, you can add more spices and a bit of salt, if you are a fan of very fragrant meals. Leave for 3-4 minutes, then add rice on top of carrots and immediately pour boiling water such that it is higher than surface with rice by about 0.5 inch. I prefer to wash the rice till clean water before adding, but it is up to you. You can also add more salt and spices now

All this time you need to keep high heat. If you notice that onions start to burn, lower the heat and stir fry. Let water evaporate until its surface reaches surface with rice, then add garbanzo beans (I also pour all liquid from can with beans, it is up to you). 

All this time pot was open, but now it is time to cover it. After that, lower heat and let everything boil until all water evaporates (use your favorite technique of checking water level, I just pinch cooked mass with fork or knife). Keep the cooking mass covered till the end. After water and liquid from beans can on the top evaporates and you can see rice with beans, throw in garlics. If you are doubtful about this step, feel free to chop garlics and add them together with meat.

After all liquids evaporate (or about to evaporate), turn off heat and let everything rest for 5-10 minutes (keep it covered).

After that, mix everything and it is ready to be served. Feel free to improvise with spices, beans, you can also add raisins together with beans, some don’t skin garlics before adding them, some put the whole garlic on top of cooking mass, there is a lot to experiment with, if you are interested. As Bolsyn! (“Bon Appetit” in Kazakh)

Written by ICSC member Alisher Duspayev