A Recipe for Plov

by Laurence Jarvik on 8/10/2004 · 16 comments

Here’s a recipe for Plov, from Misha Brukman’s Food website:


2 pounds lamb with some fat (lamb shanks or neck bones cut into slices, veal or beef cubes, chicken quarters separated into thighs and drumsticks can be substituted or used in addition to the classical leg of lamb)
3 medium onions, thinly sliced in half rings
3 medium carrots, julienned
4 oz corn oil
3 cups rice
1 tablespoon salt (if kosher salt is used, reduce the amount to 3/4 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
12 black peppercorns
some red pepper flakes – optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cooking instructions at: http://llvm.cs.uiuc.edu/~brukman/food/recipes/plov/

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Tatyana August 10, 2004 at 11:26 am

I object!
1. Never mix different kinds of meat: chicken is ready quicker than lamb, you’ll end up with disintegrating chicken and tough lamb/beef.
2. Corn oil is abomination. If you have to use oil at all, use sunflower oil. Original recipe uses first lamb fat from the rear(‘kurdyuk’?),fried till all fat liquifyied, then fried parts removed with the slotted spoon.
3. No kitchen towels, if you don’t want cotton threads in your mouth. Use flipped porcelain plate same diameter as your pot under the lid.

Otherwise, he’s passable.

Alisher August 10, 2004 at 11:42 am

I support the objections of Tatyana, plov on corn oil… it is the first time I hear such a thing.. You can try cotton oil mixed with animal fat, and usually plov is good, but corn oil, actually, I have never eaten a plov with corn oil.
Secondly, I have never seen plov prepared with chicken…
Finally, adding some garlic would make it more delicious, I guess..And usually, when garlic is prepared with plov, honestly i dont know how it is done, but it doesnt have its particular smell..

Nathan August 10, 2004 at 12:24 pm

I made plov with olive oil once… It sucked. When I make it now, I try to go for sunflower, but I’ve been noticing cottonseed oil at the supermarket lately. I say go authentic when possible.

I’ve made chicken plov before too. Not too bad, but I prefer lamb or beef.

I’m partial to 1 or 2 heads of garlic cooked whole in the rice. I love the paste. I occasionally throw raisins in too. Dried cranberries are pretty good as well.

All that said, I’m more of a somsa and shashlik man. When I lived in downtown Navoi (what a funny term, one could walk from one end to the other long-wise in about 40 minutes, but it was the “old” part of the new city), I had a bazaar across the street and a shashlik place right outside my building. I think I ate 2 big somsas for lunch everyday with tobasco from home and I hit up the shashlik place at least a few times per week.

Tatyana August 10, 2004 at 2:06 pm

Nathan, try dried apricots (kuragA) next time instead of cranberries. And the recipe omitted the most important thing: what sort of rice to use.
I find Basmati the best – not very starched and able to keep its beautiful long shape after cooking.

Oh, and sometimes I add a bit of saffran for color.

Alisher August 10, 2004 at 3:00 pm

Also I recommend Devizira type of rice, also with a long shape. You can know that it is Devizira by the color, which is not white but brown…
But in general, the more is the ability of the rice to absorb water and oil, the better it is for plov..

Laurence August 11, 2004 at 9:26 am

OK, OK, OK. It’s not authentic. But can someone please tell me, what kind of oil people used to make plov before cotton was introduced to Central Asia by the Russians in the 19th century?

Nathan August 11, 2004 at 10:08 am

Laurence, in my opinion, it’s as authentic as anything. Plov with a sheep and rice base seems to be pretty widespread across Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan and the Caucasus. There’s a ton of variation in Uzbekistan too. It seemed to be oiliest in the Ferghan Valley and get progressively less so the farther west one went. Tashkent’s yellow plov got me deathly ill and kind of turned me off of the stuff for a lot of the time I was there.

I love experimenting with the plov because it’s almost like a culinary canvas that a lot can be added to.

Alisher August 11, 2004 at 10:55 am

As for original oil, my grandmother still sometimes cooks plov the way Tatyana described, i.e. : “Original recipe uses first lamb fat from the rear(‘kurdyuk’?),fried till all fat liquifyied, then fried parts removed with the slotted spoon.”
As a matter of fact, those fried parts are called jizza in uzbek, and they are extremely delicious, thay can be eaten for breakfast, they have immense amount of calories :), and they can keep you up all the day…

Nathan, you are absolutely right, Tashkent plov is awful, what i really hate in it is the coloring pigment they add..it really kills the taste.

Nathan August 11, 2004 at 11:50 am

I tell you, that Tashkent plov got me so sick. I did learn an amazing cure for intestinal illness from a Russian “businessman” whose command of English was very good but very reliant on the word “bullshit.” (To this day, I still say “ees boolsheet” to honor that wonderful man–the son-in-law of “The Captain,” the only Russian in the village).

My friend who lived in Chust always took people to what we referred to as “Osh in the Park.”

Laurence August 11, 2004 at 12:07 pm

And what was the cure exactly? I’d guess Vodka, but that would be wrong…

Laurence August 11, 2004 at 12:08 pm

And what was the cure exactly? I’d guess Vodka, but that would be wrong…

Mark Hamm August 11, 2004 at 12:58 pm

I remember the sheep in UZ having big fat tails or at least the base of the tail. Is this the ‘fat from the rear’? SOme of those sheep had fatted tails nearly the size of a soocer ball.

So ALisher, would ‘jizza’ be our equivalent of pork rinds?


Nathan August 11, 2004 at 2:41 pm

Vodka is part of the cure. However, to make it officially curative, it must sound official. Therefore, one of the ingredients must have a measurement attached.

So, the cure for ichketar (one of the first words a PCV learns) is:

50 ml of vodka
Salt, lots of it

I’m told that one is supposed to take a few, but one dried me right out and let me get a whole night of sleep.

Alisher August 12, 2004 at 5:05 am

Yes, Mark

I guess you are right; jizza is similar to pork rinds. It is also crispy, and tender when not over-fried.

As for the famous rear part of sheep, in Uzbek they are called “dumba”, and it is not the tail, but as you have rightly noticed a soccer-ball like base of the tail :). Merriam-Webster online dictionary gives the following equivalents in English: rump, buttocks, backside, beam, bottom, derriere, fanny, haunches, posterior, rear, rear end.

Whatever is the right word in this context, Bon appétit…

jodi August 12, 2004 at 10:14 am

Ok, i see i have joined the conversation too late. (I’m catching up on all the stuff I’ve missed on the past few days.) But i just wanted to add that all this talk about plov makes me REALLY homesick for the real stuff made my the pros. My host ATA in Kyrgyzstan made the BEST plov on an outdoor fire pit in a big kazaan (with tons of garlic!) I still drool thinking about it…

Tatyana August 12, 2004 at 1:01 pm

Nathan, there is also one native cure for the desease you’ve described (if I’m not mistaken…tell me), which my family learned in Chirchik and we’ve been using ever since.
Dried skin of pomegranate, covered with boiling water in a glass and left to absorbe it for 1/2hr; water will turn yellow; drink it in one gulp (it’s quite bitter) and all your troubles are over.
One way or the other.

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