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.
- 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 1⁄2 cup mixed dried fruits raisins, apricots, prunes, dates, currants etc
- 1 head whole garlic head sliced in half horizontally
- 2 1⁄2 cups hot water
- 1⁄4 cup chopped nuts pistachios, almonds or pecans
- 1⁄2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds for garnish
- parsley (or cilantro) to garnish
- Wash and soak the rice until the water runs clear. Allow it to soak for a couple of hours. Drain well.
- Finely chop the assorted dried fruits into equal-sized ‘bits’. Set aside
- 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.
- Add ginger, coriander and 1 tsp of the salt. Allow it to continue cooking until aromatic.
- Cancel the saute function (off button) for the Instant Pot.
- 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.
- Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke five to six holes in rice all the way through to the bottom of the pot.
- Press the cut garlic into the rice. Again, do not stir or mix.
- 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.
- 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.
- Allow the cooker to depressurize for 10 minutes before opening.
- 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.
- 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.