Serious Eats: Recipes

Plov (Uzbek Rice Pilaf)

[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

There are as many recipes for plov, the Uzbek version of rice pilaf, as there are cooks who make it. Choices of meats, vegetables, and spices are up for debate, but all plovs start with more liquid than your typical rice pilaf, almost a proto-stew which the rice soaks up. My plov eschews meat for ample amounts of vegetables, which makes for a lighter, cleaner end result. But if you want to make this a one-pot meal, add a pound of cubed lamb shoulder and use rendered lamb or duck fat as your cooking medium. Though plov isn't always made with saffron (it's often seen as too humble for such luxury), it's one of my favorite applications for the spice. Saffron deepens the flavors of cumin, coriander, and caramelized vegetables while contributing an addictive aroma.

This is a simple, humble dish, but it's some of the best comfort food I know. It's a crowd pleaser with a touch of the exotic, hearty but not heavy. Perfect winter grub.

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