“Where shall we have lunch?”
“I’m a tourist here. It’s your call.”
“You like horses?”
“I had something a little less gamey in mind…”
I’m currently obsessed with catching up on Royal Pains on Netflix. But when I pulled Kyrgyzstan for the letter K, I felt a bit like Evan in “A Man Called Grandpa.” Because, apparently, horse meat is a protein of choice in this former Soviet state. After some research, though, I was able to find some exceptions. I’m still not sure how authentic it is, but chicken was definitely more on my playing field. Not that I’m not adventurous, but even I have my limits.
So, instead of stealthily heading to the local equestrian farm, I decided to make plov. I’d come across plov a few times thus far in my cooking around the world quest. Apparently, it’s a relatively common Middle Eastern dish featuring rice and protein. Each country, though, offers its own twist on the classic. In the Kyrgyz variety, cumin and garlic play starring roles.
Overall, we found the dish to be a little bland. It was better with a decent bit of the mashed up garlic but all things considered we would have preferred more flavor. What I will say is that this cooking method is freaking awesome. I love one-pot meals, and Rachael Ray would be proud that it came together in under thirty minutes. Essentially, you saute the vegetables and brown the meat, then add some liquid and the rice and simmer away for about twenty minutes. The flavor possibilities are endless, and I’m really excited to start experimenting!
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this visit to Kyrgyzstan for Plov. Up next: Luxembourg!
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into medium pieces
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, julienned
- ½ pint grape tomatoes, quartered
- 1 tbsp cumin
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 ¼ cups water
- 1 cup rice
- ½ head unpeeled garlic
- Olive oil (enough to sauté)
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent.
- Add chicken into skillet and brown on all sides. Once it’s browned, add in carrots and saute for a few minutes, until they start to cook but would still be crunchy. Add tomatoes, cumin, and salt, and stir until everything is combined.
- Pour water into skillet, raise heat to high, and bring to a boil. Boil for about five minutes.
- Add rice to the skillet, on top of the meat and vegetables. Water should cover the rice, but not drown it. Do not stir the rice into the mixture. Allow to boil for about a minute.
- Reduce heat to low and flatten the top of the food. In the middle, add the unpeeled garlic. Cover the skillet and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the rice is cooked.
- Once it is cooked, remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 2 or 3 minutes.
- Serve hot, with some of the garlic from the middle of the pan.