Make Ahead

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

January 14, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by Alpha Smoot
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Plov is a traditional dish of Uzbekistan, but it is loved and cooked in many Middle Eastern countries. Our family loves plov, especially Uzbek plov, which is just absolutely delicious, very aromatic, beautiful-looking and also good for you.

We have made it with lamb, beef, chicken, and none of the above (vegetarian)—it is really good no matter how you make it. Although everyone seems to have a slightly different variation, this one (which is also called "Green Plof") is our favorite.

What You'll Need
  • 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
  1. Place rice in a large bowl and cover with warm water. Set aside. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet over high heat until smoking, and then add lamb. Cook, turning occasionally, until the lamb is evenly browned, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the onion; cook, stirring, until the onion has softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the carrots; cook, stirring, until the carrots have softened, about 10 minutes. Mix in cumin, coriander, fenugreek, and peppercorns. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. [Editor's note: If you find the meat is sticking, you can add 1 teaspoon or so of water before covering the pot.]
  3. Wash rice with hot water and drain well. Pour cleaned rice over the lamb mixture in an even layer. Place the raw garlic head on top of the rice and squeeze it into the center before covering everything with stock.
  4. Slowly pour in the hot stock over a large spoon or wooden spatula. This step will ensure even distribution of the stock over the rice. The rice should be covered with about 3/4- to 1- inch of liquid. Do not stir. Season with salt, and reduce heat to medium-low.
  5. Cover until the liquid starts boiling, at which point, remove the cover to let the stock almost evaporate. Then tightly cover again and cook on very low heat until rice is ready, about 20 to 25 more minutes.
  6. When the rice is ready, open the lid, remove the garlic head, sprinkle in scallion green tops, herbs, and peas, cover and let stand for about 10 minutes. Then fluff and carefully mix everything together and serve.
  7. It is also very traditional to serve the Plov with Shikarop: a salad with finely sliced (almost shredded) tomatoes, shredded sweet onions, oil, salt, pepper, cilantro, and paprika. Enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rey Compañeros
    Rey Compañeros
  • Chris McCafferty
    Chris McCafferty
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
  • Anna Francese Gass
    Anna Francese Gass
  • Chef Lisa
    Chef Lisa

12 Reviews

Jill A. October 11, 2023
Shouldn’t the garlic cloves go back into the final dish? I don’t feel like having the head sit in the middle added much flavor.
Rey C. May 9, 2020

So this turned into a mild disaster from the get go. Brown meat at high heat for 10 minutes? I had to put the brakes on that by 3. With Carrot/Onion/Spices covered, by 18 min mostly everything in the Dutch Oven was charred at Low! heat. In the end, it's not inedible, but it's far from delicious. Will make again with considerable adjustments. Thanks for the blueprint though, it will be delicious next time.
Laura K. January 11, 2018
If you were to sub in lamb stew meat for the leg of lamb, would you recommend braising the meat for a while before proceeding with the rest of the recipe?
Laura K. January 11, 2018
If you were to sub in lamb stew meat for the leg of lamb, would you recommend braising the meat for a while before proceeding with the rest of the recipe?
Chris M. February 15, 2017
hi - I have to cook ahead for a friends' weekend away in a couple of weeks. Would this do well made a day ahead, then reheated gently, or do you think the rice would spoil. Thanks
Sarah J. February 16, 2017
I think it'll be fine made a day ahead!
sexyLAMBCHOPx February 13, 2017
This is a great recipe. I've made it with chicken. Miss you, Kukla.
Anna F. February 1, 2017
this recipe is delicious! Thanks for sharing!
Chef L. January 5, 2015
Great. Teaching this old dog a new trick. Thanks!
Kukla January 5, 2015
You are very welcome chef Lisa!
Kukla January 5, 2015
Hey, chef Lisa!

Fenugreek seeds are very flavorful and fragrant and are usually used together with other spices and dried herbs such as coriander, marjoram, summer savory, mint, dill, parsley, marigold petals and also fenugreek leaves. Since in this recipe I use a good amount of fresh herbs, the combination of cumin, fenugreek and coriander is just right.
Chef L. January 4, 2015
I've never used fenugreek seeds. Do they have a flavor or is this primarily used as a health benefit?