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Uzbek Plov with Pomegranate Seeds

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Plov (aka Pilaf, Pilau, etc) is a prominent feature in the regional cuisines of the former Soviet Republics of Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, all located in the region called Middle Asia. Each country has its own variation of plov and different methods of preparation. Plov’s main ingredients are meat, rice, carrots, and onions with occasional addition of other goodies like raisins, dried apricots, pomegranate seeds, garlic, and various spices. In Middle Asia, plov is cooked in a thick-walled cast iron pot called kazan, which can sometimes be so huge that it is kept outside and is heated over a fire pit. In Russia, plov is a very popular dish, although an Uzbek or an Azerbaijani will almost certainly complain that Russian plov is bland, lacks authenticity, and is generally prepared without due diligence. Yet I heard so many times that a Middle Asian plov prepared in a traditional way is an amazing dish seen as a symbol of prosperity and is often served on festive occasions like weddings. They even have a saying in Middle Asia: “If you are poor, you eat plov. If you are rich, you eat only plov.”

I was so keen on the idea of making proper plov that I started researching various recipes and experimenting. Finally I arrived at a recipe that worked very well – my plov turned out moist, aromatic, and very tasty. It’s an Uzbek-style plov, which means that meat and rice are cooked together in the same pot.

Recipe: Uzbek Plov with Pomegranate Seeds

Holodets (Russian Pork Aspic)

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