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A One-Pot Lamb & Rice Pilaf That Tastes Like Spring (Yes, Spring!)

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Sometimes the thought of cleanup can send even the person who loves to cook running from the kitchen. That’s why “One-Pot Wonders” are always such a hit: Toss a bunch of ingredients into a pot, cover it up, walk away, and some time later, you'll have a home-cooked dish without a sink full of pots and pans.

Hence, when I stumbled across the recipe for Spiced Uzbekistani Plov on the site, I immediately wanted to give it a try. Submitted by Kukla, a beloved member of the Food52 community who passed last year, I was certain this recipe, like many she shared, could be a winner.

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Spiced Uzbekistani Plov (Pilaf) With Herbs, Scallions & Peas
Spiced Uzbekistani Plov (Pilaf) With Herbs, Scallions & Peas

You begin by sautéeing chunks of lamb, followed by chopped vegetables. Next, you add a bit of broth, rice, and whole head of garlic to the pot. Then, you cover the pot so that all the flavors meld together, and the result is a delicious pilaf studded with tender lamb, soft vegetables, and a lovely blend of spices. The finished dish is brightened with handfuls of fresh herbs and peas, thrown in right before serving.

My curiosity was also piqued by the fact that this particular dish happens to be the national dish of Uzbekistan.

A Dinner in Honor of Longtime Food52-er Kukla
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A Dinner in Honor of Longtime Food52-er Kukla

While it can be made at home, plov (also “palov” or “pilaf”) is made for special occasions, when it's cooked in a large kazan—a very low, big pot, that sits over an open flame from the ground. Guests can watch, and smell, the dish as it cooks. For large celebrations, like weddings, there are kazans that are large enough to make enough palov serve up to a thousand people. While Uzbeks eat a significant amount of mutton because sheep are herded and kept all over the country, palov can also be made with lamb, as it is in this version.

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Rice and meat dishes are popular in the countries that neighbor Uzbekistan, and this dish is representational of the style of cooking for the entire region. Best of all, I can now say the national dish of the Uzbek is going to be in heavy rotation at my American dinner table.

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Spiced Uzbekistani Plov (Pilaf) With Herbs, Scallions & Peas

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Serves 4
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup canola or light olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless leg of lamb, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 2 teaspoons each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, toasted and crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 cups simmering homemade or good-quality store-bought beef stock, to cover
  • 1 whole unpeeled garlic head, washed
  • 1 fat bunch each of chives or scallion green tops, cilantro or parsley, and leaves from 3 to 4 sprigs of mint, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas

What's your favorite one-pot meal? Tell us in the comments below.