Uzbek pilaf, a special variety – Samarkand-style pilaf, Samarkandcha Palov, Samarkand pilaf – is characteristic of Samarkand and Bukhara. It is believed that Samarkand-style pilaf has dietary properties. The dietary properties of Samarkand pilaf are that the products are not mixed and one can “regulate” the composition of the products eaten and their fat content: One can eat more or less carrots, meat and fat together with rice. The meat in the Samarkand pilaf is juicy and soft inside, the carrots are sweet, the rice is a little dry.
Note. The amount of produce given is calculated for an 8-litre kettle.
- 1-1.2 kg rice
- 1.2-1.5 kg meat
- 200 g vegetable oil substitute
- 1 kg carrots
- 4-5 onions
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 2-3 hot chilli peppers
- 1 cup chickpeas (soak overnight)
- Zira, salt, black pepper
Prepare everything you need to make pilaf.
When the pilaf is ready, you should already have soaked chickpeas, which usually need to be soaked overnight.
Peel carrots and cut into “stalks” (“stalks” should be about 3×3 (5×5) millimetres thick); cut onions into rings. Remove the top skins from the garlic cloves.
Cut the meat for the Samarkand pilaf into large pieces, about 400-500 grams. The meat cut into large pieces will take a little longer to fry, but will be juicier as it retains its flavour; the rice also retains its own flavour.
Heat the vegetable oil as usual.
Fry the pieces of meat in the hot vegetable oil. Fry the meat until it is evenly browned. Season the meat with salt and ground black pepper. Sprinkle lightly with crushed zira. Be careful not to fry the meat too long or the crust will be thick and tough.
Add sliced onion and some (about two to three handfuls) sliced carrots to the kettle. Reduce the heat under the kettle slightly and fry the onions and carrots until the onions start to brown and the carrots are soft.
The next steps should be done quickly.
Add the remaining carrots to the kettle and flatten – be sure not to mix the added carrots with the meat and onions, which will fry at the bottom of the kettle. Arrange the garlic and peppers between the carrots. Sprinkle the peas on top and smooth the surface if necessary (do not stir). The most important thing in samarkand pilaf is that the products and their flavours do not mix.
The second part of the carrot should not be fried, so quickly sprinkle the contents of the cauldron with zira, coriander seeds, barberry; if cooking without paprika, add some ground pepper; and immediately pour the prepared boiling water. The water should be poured up to the level of the kettle’s contents.
Reduce the heat and simmer the kettle until the peas are almost cooked, then cover the kettle with a lid.
After adding the rice, bring the kettle back to the boiling point (about 1.5-2 litres for the quantity given in the recipe).
Rinse the rice under running water.
Salt the boiled water. Note that you have already salted the meat. Normally, 2 tablespoons of salt are needed for this amount of food; about a quarter to a third of the salt for the meat; the remaining salt should be added to the boiling water at this time.
Distribute the rice evenly in the kettle and pour in the boiling salted water you prepared. The level of the boiling water poured in should be 1-2 cm above the level of the rice. (depends on the type of rice).
Heat the water so that it boils on the entire surface of the kettle. When the water starts to evaporate on the surface of the rice, help to cook the rice evenly. Carefully turn over the top layer of rice (be careful not to touch the carrot and pea layers) and lower the top of the rice.
When almost all the water has evaporated, pile up the rice into a heap and poke holes in the rice all the way to the bottom of the kettle (be careful not to pierce the peppers lying in the pilaf). Wait until the water has completely boiled away, reduce the heat to low and close the kettle.
Let the pilaf cook for 30-40 minutes on the lowest setting. You can then remove the fire and let the pilaf rest for another ten minutes.
Caution. Do not stir the Samarkand pilaf even after it is cooked.
After opening the pilaf, without stirring, arrange in heaps on small plates first the rice, then carrots and peas, garlic and pepper.
Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces with a knife and add to the pilaf dishes. In this case, small chopping boards and knives are served so that the diners can cut the meat themselves at the table.
A salad of onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and/or vinegar made from unripe grapes (guraob) can be served with the pilaf.
The main feature of Samarkand pilaf is that the products are not mixed and everyone can choose the composition and fat content of the food eaten: eat more or less carrots, meat and fat together with rice.
Another interesting fact: in Samarkand, cold water is served with the pilaf. Be careful! You have to get used to it; we recommend drinking hot green tea with the pilaf.
Enjoy your meal!