Recipe: Mark the first iftar of Ramadan 2021 with comforting bowl of Uzbek Plov
Popular far beyond the borders of Uzbekistan, the Uzbek Plov (or pilaf, pilav, pilau, pulao, polu and palaw) is the Central Asian nation’s signature dish which is traditionally made with lamb meat. Though it is traditionally cooked over an open fire in a kazan which is a kind of large cast iron pot but Uzbek Plov can also be cooked well in a dutch oven over a gas flame.
This dish is different from other pulaos that are commonly known since the rice in Uzbek Plov is simmered in zirvak, a broth of meat and vegetables, until the liquid evaporates. Give Uzbekistan's cuisine a little space in your iftar menu during Ramadan 2021 and bookmark this mouthwatering recipe of mutton flavoured Uzbek Plov to treat your taste buds after prolonged fasting:
500 g lamb (cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
500 g or 2&3/4 cup medium grain rice
80 g or 1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds (toasted and coarsely pound/chopped)
2 bay leaves
2 medium onions (finely diced)
2 whole heads of garlic (clean and discard outer layers but leave final layer that holds garlic whole before cutting them in half)
500 g or 3 medium carrots (julienned or grated)
1&1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
700 ml or 3 cups water
Rinse rice until water is clear and let it soak for 15 mins before draining. Heat oil in a large dutch oven or non stick pot on medium high, add meat and 1/2 tsp salt and fry until they turn golden brown and set aside.
To the same pot with remaining oil, add cumin and fry till fragrant (abt 1 min). Add onions and fry until they turn translucent and golden brown. Add bay leaves and garlic, fry for 1 min. Add rice and fry for 1 min then add the meat back in.
Add water, remaining salt and pepper, bring to a boil. Lower heat to maintain a gentle simmer, add carrots and mix well. Place the lid on the pot and let it cook until all the water has been absorbed into the rice. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 5 mins before removing garlic and bay leaves.
Carefully fluff the rice with a fork, taste for seasoning (if rice tastes a bit bland add another 1/2 tsp salt, mix and let it stand for another 5 mins). Transfer plov to a big serving plate or individual bowls and serve with boiled egg and side salad (optional). Enjoy!
Commonly included as a meat consumed in Mediterranean diets, lamb meat lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease or risk of inflammation. Grass-fed lamb is a very good source of selenium and zinc which fight against oxidative stress.
The zinc content also helps boost immunity along with growth and development in children. Apart from these, zinc content in lamb helps in wound healing, DNA and protein synthesis.
When compared to other protein sources like chicken or fish, lamb as a red meat has a lot more iron that can help to improve and prevent anemia symptoms. The anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids in lamb meat aid fat loss and improve lean muscle mass courtesy its conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).