Plov: The Instant Pot Edition

The inspiration for this column came from an article in the Guardian that was written a couple of years ago. It reminded me how much I love all these rice dishes from the region, whether its origins are Iraq, Iran, or other parts of Central Asia.

I am convinced that there are as many recipes for Plov, a meat-vegetable-rice one-dish deliciousness, as there are Uzbeki grandmothers. It’s all part of a great regional rice tradition that fits into the umbrella term of pilaf or pilau.

Sheep farming is an important part of this nation’s agricultural tradition and so plov is usually made with lamb or mutton. Chicken and beef are also used but to a lesser extent. Vegetarian versions are less common but not unknown. I’ve chosen to offer a vegetarian version this time but I’m sure there will be meat editions coming in the future. Also in the future, I will publish a stove-top version of this dish for those who don’t enjoy an Instant Pot in their kitchen.

Jeweled Rice

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Basmati Rice or other long grained rice
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion finely diced
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 2 stalks celery roughly chopped
  • 2 – inch piece of ginger, grated or 2 tsps of dry ginger
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp salt , divided or to taste
  • 1 12 cup mixed dried fruits raisins, apricots, prunes, dates, currants etc
  • 1 head whole garlic head sliced in half horizontally
  • 2 12 cups hot water
  • 14 cup chopped nuts pistachios, almonds or pecans
  • 12 cup fresh pomegranate seeds for garnish
  • parsley (or cilantro) to garnish

Directions

  1. Wash and soak the rice until the water runs clear. Allow it to soak for a couple of hours. Drain well.
  2. Finely chop the assorted dried fruits into equal-sized ‘bits’. Set aside
  3. Set the Instant Pot to saute mode. Add 1 tbsp of oil to the pot and allow it to heat to “Hot”. Add onion and stir frequently until it is golden.
  4. Add ginger, coriander and 1 tsp of the salt. Allow it to continue cooking until aromatic.
  5. Cancel the saute function (off button) for the Instant Pot.
  6. Add the dried fruit bits on top. Mix the remaining 2 tsps of salt with the drained rice. Add the rice to the pot but DO NOT MIX. Smooth it with the back of a spoon.
  7. Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke five to six holes in rice all the way through to the bottom of the pot.
  8. Press the cut garlic into the rice. Again, do not stir or mix.
  9. Slowly, being careful to not disturb the rice, pour the 2-1/2 cups of hot water into the cooking pot.It helps to pour the water over the back of a serving spoon to make its flow more gentle.
  10. Cover and seal the Instant Pot. Set it for the “rice” cooking setting (approximately 12 minutes or if you prefer a manual setting, cook for 8 minutes on high pressure.
  11. Allow the cooker to depressurize for 10 minutes before opening.
  12. After opening, remove the garlic head halves and gently mix the contents of the pot. If you’re a fan of roast garlic, feel free to squeeze the cloves back into the dish.
  13. Traditionally, this dish is served on a large serving platter. Once the rice/vegetable mixture has been plated, sprinkle the top of the dish with the “jewels” — chopped parsley, chopped cilantro if you prefer, chopped nuts, and the pomegranate seeds.

Pindi Chole — Chickpea stew

Instant pot dish, vegan suitable, gluten free

Course: Entree/ Main course

Cuisine: Indian

Main Ingredient: Beans

Serves: 2 as a main; 4 as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chickpeas — dry, no need to soak
  • 2 tea bags
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 pods cardamom (available at Indian grocery) alternative: 1/4 tsp ground
  • 4 cloves
  • 14 tsp baking soda
  • 12 tsp salt
  • 3 cup water
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil of your choosing.

Directions for Stage 1

  1. Pile everything in to a 6 qt Instant pot and mix. Fasten the cover and turn the release valve to “seal”. On high pressure, manually set for 45 minutes. If using 3 qt pot, set for 50 minutes.
  2. Let cool for 10 minutes before opening the release valve.
  3. Drain chickpeas, discard whole spices and teabags. Set aside for Stage 2.

For a mild curry

  • 3 tsp oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 green chili slit down the middle or 1 tsp chopped green chilis
  • 2 Tbsp chana masala (link to recipe here)
  • 1 – 14 oz canned small diced tomatoes or 2 large fresh tomatoes chopped
  • 12 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cilantro finely chopped or 2 Tbsp chopped celery leaves

For more heat in your curry, in a small fry pan, gently fry the following together and stir into your finished curry.

  • 1 tbsp ghee / clarified butter or oil of your choice.
  • 1 green chili slit
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and julienne or 2 tsp ginger paste.
  • 14 tsp Kashmir red chili powder. Warning: this is a very intense spice. Alternative — 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.

Directions

  1. In the Instant Pot, set cook setting to Saute. Add 1 tbsp of ghee or oil of your choice. When the oil is hot, saute the bay leaf in it for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the onion, along with garlic-ginger paste and the split green chili. Saute until the onions turn golden brown.
  3. Add the prepared chana masala powder and keep stirring as the spices become aromatic and delicious. You don’t want to burn the spices.
  4. Add the tinned tomatoes and mix all the ingredients together. .
  5. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and oil separates
  6. Add the reserved cooked chickpeas and ½ tsp salt. If you are using the spicy additions, stir those in now
  7. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Add the chopped cilantro and mix well.

Serve with rice, naan bread, roti. Add a few cooling side dishes like sliced cucumber, sliced bananas and you can never go wrong with a little Indian pickle on the table.

Thanks for reading. Keep cooking and talk at you later.

Kate


A basic all-purpose, every day Vinaigrette salad dressing

A minute’s work saves a lot of money.

A vinaigrette salad dressing is basically oil mixed with an acid and some flavouring agents. They whip up quickly and they are immensely cheaper than commercial bottled dressings. Here’s the basic proportions but please feel free to experiment.

Course: Kitchen basics

Cuisine: Suitable for vegan / vegetarian diets

Yield: 3/4 cup

Ingredients

  • 12 cup olive oil or avocado oil or vegetable oil of your choice.
  • 14 cup Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar, lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or finely minced onion
  • 2 teaspoon freshly chopped herbs (thyme, basil, garlic scapes, dill, parsley or combination you like. (only have dried? use about 3/4 tsp)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Optional: 1 tsp of Dijon mustard — it helps to prevent oil/vinegar separation.
  • Optional :- 1 tsp of honey (vegans — use your fav substitute).

Directions

  1. Whisk oil, vinegar, shallot, and thyme in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Alternatively, pour ingredients into a wide-mouth Mason jar and blend vigorously with an immersion blender.
  3. Dressing keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days. Let it warm to room temperature before serving.

Thanks for reading. Talk at you later.