Today I will be showing you how to make plov with lamb. It took me quite a while to master making Pilaw or in Russian – plov. There are many ways of preparing it but I wanted it to taste and look a certain way. I will try to give you as much detail as possible about this recipe so you can also create this tasty and flavorful dish for you and your family.
You don’t have to follow all of my instructions exactly, feel free to use them as guidelines. I used the Samarkandi (Uzbekistan) way of making the plov as my guideline and adjusted it a bit to suit my taste. Let’s begin, shall we?
(all measurements are approximate)
2 lbs of HALAL lamb (fat removed), cut into medium size pieces (you can use any meat you’d like)
4 cups of LONG GRAIN PARBOILED rice – (pre-soaked for an hour in warm water with 1 tsp of salt)
3 onions, cut into thin slices
3 carrots, cut into long thin pieces – DO NOT GRATE!
1 whole garlic
Salt to taste
Black/chili pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp cumin seed (I used powder but seed is preferable)
Vegetable oil (I recommend NOT to use corn or canola oil, use olive/sunflower/sesame oil instead)
HEATING THE OIL
I cook my plov in a large anodized aluminum casserole (7 L) by Calphalon and I cannot recommend it highly enough. However, you are free to use any dish you’d like as long as you make sure nothing burns and the temperature is very high. Cast iron is a perfect alternative with Teflon being the least favorable one (Teflon is not built for high temperatures).
Heat the oil for 3-4 minutes on very high heat in a preheated pot until circles form (oil starting to boil). This is a very important step, don’t skip it.
COOKING THE LAMB
The quality of the lamb is going to make or break a plov. Myself I prefer halal lamb hands down. Halal lamb smells divine and the fat does not give out that unpleasant aroma that many lamb avoiders dislike. The main goal now is to give the lamb a bit of a brown crust. Make sure you drain it from any liquid and pet it dry (if wet) before placing it in the oil.
Put the lamb in the oil and allow it to sizzle a few minutes on each side. Make sure you are using the highest temperature possible for this step. However, if too much liquid forms, do not panic, continue to cook on high heat until it is reduced.
FRYING THE ONION
My lamb gave out quite a bit of liquid (I used frozen lamb) so I had to fry the onions separately. The are not tips and tricks here, just fry it in oil with a bit of salt until it is golden-brown (I use Kosher salt, it makes everything taste better).
After a meat is cooked a bit on all sides and the liquid (if any) evaporated from the meat, we add some salt and cumin to the flov meat and then add the carrots and mix well.
Add fried onions to the meat and carrots, mix all well. Add black/chili pepper.
ADDING GARLIC and WATER
Wait a few minutes and then place a whole garlic in the middle on the dish and add hot water JUST ENOUGH to cover the meat. Let boil for 1-2 minutes.
ADDING PRE-SOAKED RICE
I use parboiled long grain rice because it keeps its shape and virtually impossible to overcook. I used to use Basmati Rice but it did not give me the same effect. Go ahead and use any rice you’d like for you plov but make sure you pre-soak it first so it will not be dry and undercooked. Layer the rice on top of the meat and press down firmly so that you won’t have to use a lot of water. Add remaining cumin seed on top.
MAKE HOLES IN RICE
use a butter knife or the back of a fork to make holes in the rice. Wait until plov is hot enough so fumes are coming out. Add more boiling water if not enough but don’t overdo! REMEMBER: you rice is re-soaked! Last thing you want is overcooked rice. Spoon some of the plov water and drizzle on top of the rice so it absorbs the flavors
Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 40 minutes.
MIX RICE and MEAT TOGETHER
Only WHEN plov is READY mix meat and rice together, wait 5-20 minutes for the plov to “calm down” and serve!