A Whole Different Bowl of Rice
Plovar, rice dishes from central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, became the favourite food of the Turks and not wanting to be upstaged by their neighbours the Greeks also adapted it into their traditional diet.
The Turks called it pilaf after the Persian pilaou, meaning boiled rice, and a culinary legend was gradually introduced to Europe.
If you didn’t know better, you’d be fooled into believing that pilaf served in Greece and Turkey is authentic plov. Since the opening up of the Eurasian region that has changed dramatically.
The truth is out. Genuine plov is a whole different bowl of rice.
Şirin Plov (sweet)
Increasingly popular around Europe as a vegan dish, the sweet plov known as shirin is also served in Baku with fried meat.
1 kg basmati rice 1 litre water 300 ml butter, melted 120 g sugar 80 g apricots/dates, sliced 80 g flour 80 g prunes, halved 80 g raisins 1 egg, beaten Salt, pinch Oil, for frying Water, for qazmaq (dough for cooking base)
Parboil the rice in salted water.
Fry fruit, except prunes, in butter, add sugar.
Make a qazmaq with egg, flour, rice and a few splashes of water. Dough should be soft.
Combine fruit and rice.
Roll out the qazmaq dough to the diameter of the rice pan.
Pour thin layer of oil into pan, lightly fry qazmaq.
Spoon fruit-rice mixture on top of the qazmaq.
Cover and leave to cook over a gradual heat for an hour.
Serve in the shape of a dome, decorated with prunes.
Balıqlı Plov (fish)
1 kg fish, cut into bite-sized pieces 1 kg rice 2 onions, sliced 200 g butter 200 g butter, melted 200 g salt 200 g soured cornelian cherries 5 g turmeric Water, for rice
Soak 45 g of rice in a little water with the turmeric. Leave overnight.
Soak remaining rice in salted water, drain. Steam rice in just enough water to half cook it. Fry par-cooked rice and turmeric rice in butter. Mix rice with onions.
Place fish in the bottom of a large pot, cover with rice and onion mixture, cherries and melted butter.
Cover and cook over a low heat for an hour.
Serve with flat bread.
Çolpalı Plov (cockerel)
1 kg cockerel, boiled, cut into pieces 1 kg rice 200 g onions, sliced 100 g oil 20 g cornelian cherries, stoned 5 g salt 2 g saffron Milk, for rice Water, for rice
Soak 45 g of rice in a little milk with saffron.
Soak rice in salted water for three hours, parboil and drain.
Fry parboiled rice and saffron rice in oil.
Fry chicken in oil, add onions and cherries.
Arrange rice in a large pot, layer with chicken, onions and cherries, cover and heat gently over a low heat for an hour.
Səbzi Plov (Səbzi)
500 g beef 500 g rice 300 g onions, sliced 200 g oil 50 g fennel bulb, sliced 50 g leek, sliced 30 g salt 1 bunch coriander 1 bunch parsley 1 bunch sorrel 1 bunch tarragon 5 g lemon salt 5 g saffron Black pepper, pinch Plums, for garnish
Cook rice in salted water over a very low heat for three hours, drain, keep warm.
Boil beef, cut into slices, fry in oil until crisp.
Fry rice in oil, add saffron near the end.
Combine the rice, meat, onions, herbs, greens and seasonings in a bowl. Invert and garnish with plums.
Qarası aş (black)
Meat 1 kg lamb/beef, sliced, boiled in salted water 500 g chestnuts 500 g onions, sliced 300 g apricots, dried 300 g Albukhara plums 300 g oil 300 g prunes 300 g raisins 15 g salt Black pepper, large pinch Turmeric, large pinch
Fry onions, set aside.
Individually fry apricots, albukhara, prunes and raisins.
Layer in a large pot in the following order – meat, onions, prunes, chestnuts, Albukhara plums, apricots, raisins, colouring and seasoning – and cook gently until rice is ready.
Rice 1 litre water 1 kg rice 200 g butter, melted 100 g raisins 60 g salt Turmeric, large pinch
Parboil rice in salted water.
Combine rice, raisins and turmeric in a large pot. Add butter, cover and heat gently for an hour.
Serve with meat and assortments.
Qatıqlı aş (yoghurt)
500 g rice 200 g green beans, boiled until al dente, chopped 200 g yoghurt 80 g butter 80 g green herbs, chopped Flour, for umac Salt
Parboil rice in salted water, drain.
Combine herbs, flour and a little water to make umac paste. Lay this in the bottom of a pot.
Mix beans and rice with the yoghurt, place on top of the umac, cover and cook over a very low heat for an hour.
Serve with yoghurt.
A popular pilaf traditional in Greece and Turkey is made with chickpeas and sometimes with lamb. This is a modern version made with orzo pasta instead of chickpeas.
800 g rice 300 g orzo 2 litres water/chicken stock 100 g olive oil 35 g salt Water, for soaking rice
Soak rice in hot water until the water is cold, drain.
Heat oil in heavy-based deep saucepan and sauté the orzo until they turn brown. Add rice and stock, cook until the orzo and rice are soft to the bite.
The Turkish Düğün Pilavi is made similarly, with chickpeas, and with lamb. When lamb or mutton is required, use 500g cubed, simmer in hot water for ten minutes, then fry until a crust has formed on the meat. Cook chickpeas in half the stock until al dente, add the meat, then the rice.
The Turks adore pilaf and will make countless versions with different ingredients, methods and results. Some are steamed, others are baked, and it is not unusual to see a pilaf used as stuffing or encased in a pastry. This is their cracked wheat pilaf, which is also served in borek pastry parcels.
800 g bulgur 800 ml water/meat stock 200 ml olive oil/vegetable oil 100 g butter 6 onions, chopped 15 g coriander/mint, fresh, chopped Salt, pinch Pepper, pinch
In a heavy-based deep saucepan, sauté onions in butter and oil until they are golden-brown.
Add bulgur, sauté for 30 minutes over a low to medium heat, making sure the onions do not burn.
Pour water or stock onto bulgar, season, cover and cook over a medium heat until the grains have absorbed the liquid.
Continue to cook over a very low heat for 30 minutes.
Stir to loosen grains and serve in a large bowl.
Season with pepper, garnish with fresh herbs of your choice.