Lamb Garlic Pilaf

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Lamb Garlic PilafMany years ago, I went on a whirlwind working tour of Central Asia. While I was in Kyrgyzstan, about to head to Uzbekistan, I had a rather unpleasant cafeteria meal at the American university there. When I was biting into an ill-advised, subpar “grilled cheese,” hundreds of gunshots rang outside the window. What? At that time, there were vast social movements across Eastern Europe and they eventually spread to Central Asia … during my visit. Long story short, Kyrgyzstan was on lockdown and my visit to Uzbekistan was promptly cancelled. In honor of my terrific timing, I ate the national dish of Uzbekistan that night for dinner amidst a city-wide curfew.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup basmati or other long grain white rice
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 0.75 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 lb lamb shoulder, diced
  • 1½ tsp salt, divided
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced half moons
  • 0.5 lb carrots, cut into ¼ inch x 2 inch sticks
  • 8 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, combine rice with 2 cups of water and set aside.
  2. Place a skillet over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the lamb and 1 teaspoon salt and sauté, stirring often, until all of the meat has browned, about 6-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the lamb to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add onion to the skillet and sauté until the onion pieces have softened and begin to brown, about 8-10 minutes. Add carrots, garlic, cumin, and black pepper, and continue to sauté for an additional 6-8 minutes, or until the carrots have softened but not broken. Add the remaining 2 cups of water to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the browned lamb, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
  4. Turn off the heat and uncover the skillet. Drain the soaking rice and evenly distribute it across the top of the contents of the skillet. Sprinkle the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt across the top. Using the back of a spoon, make sure the rice is submerged in liquid, but do not mix it with the lamb mixture. Cover and transfer the skillet to the oven for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the oven. Allow the plov to rest, covered, out of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the lid, stir everything together, and serve directly to bowls.
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