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Uzbek Plov

Plov is the national dish of Uzbekistan that I fell in love with when I visited the country in 2003 – it’s a rice dish consisting of lamb and a variety of vegetables, all cooked to a golden colour. For many westerners, this dish could be considered rather fatty and unhealthy, but for me this is a bit like comfort food – the fat can be cancelled out by drinking gallons of green tea!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds boneless shoulder or leg of lamb, with some fat (the fat lends a wonderful flavor to the dish)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, julienned
  • 3 large carrots, julienned
  • 2-1/2 cups raw rice
  • 4-1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon adzhika, or crushed red pepper
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron, stepped in 2 tablespoons boiling water for 10 minutes
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Raw onion, sliced paper-thin

METHOD

  1. Cut the lamb into chunks. Heat the oil over high heat in a large saucepan, then stir in the lamb and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
  2. Stir onions and carrots into the fat remaining in the pan, adding a little more olive oil if necessary. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until tender but not browned. Return the lamb to the pot and add the raw rice. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the rice begins to turn golden brown. Then pour in the boiling water, stirring to mix well.
  3. Add the adzhika (or red pepper), salt, saffron tea and black pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, or until rice is done. Serve libarlly garnished with paper-thin slices of raw onion and a bit of carrots.
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