Spiced Uzbekistani Plov (Pilaf) With Herbs, Scallions & Peas


Serves 4

1 cup basmati rice 1/4 cup canola or light olive oil 1 pound boneless leg of lamb, cut into 2-inch pieces 1 large onion, thinly sliced 2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned 2 teaspoons each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, toasted and crushed 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed 2 cups simmering homemade or good-quality store-bought beef stock, to cover 1 whole unpeeled garlic head, washed 1 fat bunch each of chives or scallion green tops, cilantro or parsley, and leaves from 3 to 4 sprigs of mint, finely chopped 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas

Place rice in a large bowl and cover with warm water. Set aside. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet over high heat until smoking, and then add lamb. Cook, turning occasionally, until the lamb is evenly browned, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the onion; cook, stirring, until the onion has softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the carrots; cook, stirring, until the carrots have softened, about 10 minutes. Mix in cumin, coriander, fenugreek, and peppercorns. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. [Editor’s note: If you find the meat is sticking, you can add 1 teaspoon or so of water before covering the pot.]

Wash rice with hot water and drain well. Pour cleaned rice over the lamb mixture in an even layer. Place the raw garlic head on top of the rice and squeeze it into the center before covering everything with stock.
Slowly pour in the hot stock over a large spoon or wooden spatula. This step will ensure even distribution of the stock over the rice. The rice should be covered with about 3/4- to 1- inch of liquid. Do not stir. Season with salt, and reduce heat to medium-low.
Cover until the liquid starts boiling, at which point, remove the cover to let the stock almost evaporate. Then tightly cover again and cook on very low heat until rice is ready, about 20 to 25 more minutes.

When the rice is ready, open the lid, remove the garlic head, sprinkle in scallion green tops, herbs, and peas, cover and let stand for about 10 minutes. Then fluff and carefully mix everything together and serve.
It is also very traditional to serve the Plov with Shikarop: a salad with finely sliced (almost shredded) tomatoes, shredded sweet onions, oil, salt, pepper, cilantro, and paprika. Enjoy!


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