I know I have been reminiscing about my time in Spain a bit recently, between the fantastic romesco sauce for the calçotada and tapas like Spanish chickpeas and spinach, but this recipe instead brings back memories of Russia. To be honest, I don’t have that many good food memories. That’s partly as when I lived there as a student more years ago than I’d like to think, food was incredibly seasonal and local. Arriving in January, that meant little more than potatoes, carrots and cabbage for quite some time. I was also in a relatively small town with few restaurants to choose from and not a whole lot in the way of interesting dishes on offer. However come spring, we had a trip down to the Black Sea and were grateful of the different food influences in the area, with one of the dishes I really remember enjoying being lamb pilaf, or plov.
What is lamb pilaf?
Lamb pilaf (also known as plov or pilau, depending where you are from) is a dish typical to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan in particular, but with variations across the region. It is a pretty simple dish, being only lamb, rice, onions and carrots, and sometimes with raisins or barberries (which I use in kuku sabzi, Persian herb fritatta), but the way of cooking and gentle aromatic seasoning makes for a fantastically delicious dish.
A great way with leftovers
I love lamb any time, but when we make roast lamb, I always end up with some leftover. This is such a great way to use it up. If you are using leftovers, or even if you are trimming down a fresh piece of meat, make sure you don’t throw out the lamb fat you trim off as you can use it at the start of this dish. I know it might seem like a fair amount of fat/oil but the rendered lamb fat in particular adds to the overall flavor and really makes a difference in the end dish.
How it’s made
In general, I have kept pretty close to the traditional Afghan/Uzbek ingredients and cooking method. The one main change is I put the garlic in earlier in the cooking rather than as in many traditional recipes where you chop the top off a whole head of garlic and is put in to the steaming rice. My main rationale was it seemed a bit fiddly after and a bit much, and this way still has plenty flavor. If you don’t have ground cardamon then you can use around four whole green cardamon, crush them gently to remove the outer shells then crush the inside black seeds with a pestle and mortar. Try to avoid skipping it as it’s a great aromatic spice that really adds to the overall flavor.
The dish is, as I have said, pretty easy to make so there’s not much else to note on making it, other than don’t stir the rice once you add it, just leave it to steam and make slight holes (as in photo above) to allow it to steam evenly. Only stir once the rice is cooked and you are ready to dig in.
The fantastic flavor aside, this is a great dish for so many reasons. It’s a one pot dish, it makes a little meat go a long way and it works really well with leftovers. Not that you’ll need reasons to make it after you try, though. Believe me, you’ll be surprised by how much wonderful flavor the whole dish has.
- 1 cup basmati rice, soaked and rinsed at least 3 times ideally over a couple hours
- 7oz/200g lamb leg or shoulder meat, leftover or fresh (trimmed weight)
- 1 medium-large onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1tbsp vegetable oil plus some pieces of lamb fat to render (or around 2tbsp oil)
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- ½ tbsp ground cumin
- ½ tbsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp ground cloves or allspice
- 2 cups hot water
- a little salt, around ¼ tsp
- ¼ cup/ 35g raisins
- As above, do soak and rinse the rice a number of times before starting the dish - this helps to stop the rice clumping in the finished dish.
- Dice the lamb small, approx ⅓in/1cm cubes, peel and slice the onion and peel and coarsely grate the carrot.
- Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the lamb fat to render the fat - basically cook it and press it gently to release liquid fat. Remove the leftover pieces of fat.
- Add the chunks of lamb if not already cooked or if pink and brown all over - will only take a minute - then remove and set aside.
- Next, add the onion and soften, stirring regularly, around 5 minutes.
- Add the carrot and garlic, mix and cook for another minute then add the spices and mix well.
- Layer the drained rice over the top of the lamb mixture and flatten then carefully pour over the water and sprinkle the salt on top.
- Reduce the heat slightly and cover the pan with a lid and allow the rice to steam.
- Once the water is no longer over the top of the rice, after around 10 minutes, use the handle of a wooden spoon to gently poke a few holes in the rice to help it steam evenly. Cover again and steam for another 10-15 minutes until the rice on the top when you test it is just cooked.
- Add the raisins, mix everything together and serve.
See what everyone else has been bringing along to this week’s Sunday Supper:
- Bacon and Sriracha Deviled Eggs by Casa de Crews
- Buffalo Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Jalapeño Cilantro Deviled Eggs by Our Good Life
- Rissole by Brunch with Joy
- Savory Basque Tart by Food Lust People Love
Breakfast and Brunch
- Breakfast Burritos by Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Breakfast Enchiladas by Curious Cuisiniere
- Gluten-Free Ham Spinach & Gruyère Quiche by Amee’s Savory Dish
- Ham and Egg Hash by Whole Food | Real Families
- Matzo Brei Pancakes by Take A Bite Out of Boca
- Savory Ham and Scallion Corn Cakes by The Weekend Gourmet
- Black Pepper Fried Brown Rice with Ham by Food Done Light
- Cajun Hambalaya by Palatable Pastime
- Cal-Mex Avocado and Egg Salad by eating in instead
- Chunky Healthy Egg Salad by Peanut Butter and Peppers
- Ham Fried Rice by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
- Kimchi Fried Rice by Wallflower Girl
- Pan-Fried Ham with Okra and Red-Eye Gravy by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Salmon, Asparagus and Capers Panini by Family Foodie
Soups and Salads
- Ham and Corn Chowder by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Southern Ham Macaroni Salad by Magnolia Days
- Split Pea and Ham Slowcooker Soup by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
- Apple Blueberry Flip Flop by Recipe for Perfection
- Brownies with Kentucky Bourbon and Chocolate Mint Ganache by Lifestyle Food Artistry
- Cadbury Egg Stuffed Croissants by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Cheese and Pineapple Bread Pudding by Basic N Delicious
- Easter Candy Bark by Pies and Plots
- Easter Candy Brownie Cookies by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Peanut Butter Brownie No Bake Cheesecake by Recipes, Food and Cooking
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Matzo S’mores by Desserts Required
- Sunshine Cake by The Ninja Baker
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