Uzbek pilaf in a cauldron is considered the most popular type of this dish. You can, of course, cook it in a pot or a frying pan, but the result will not be convincing enough. It is a large, heavy and deep cauldron that provides the conditions under which pilaf ingredients acquire the right texture and become infused with flavors and aromas of each other. Such a dish would not be ashamed to serve even the most demanding connoisseur of Uzbek cuisine! Although, let’s be honest, there will always be someone who will point out some violation of the classical basics. We will not dispute this person but point out that there are many recipes for Uzbek pilaf in cauldron, and almost every family in this Eastern country has its own version.
1 kg of long grain rice
1 kg lamb
1 kg carrots
300 ml vegetable oil
4 small onions
2 small dry hot peppers
1 tbsp. dried barberries
1 tbsp. zira
1 tsp. coriander seeds
Step by step recipe
Prepare the rice for the Uzbek pilaf
Rinse the rice for the Uzbek pilaf in a cauldron with cold water, changing it several times. The last of the water should be completely clear after rinsing. The rice is ready.
Ingredients for the Uzbek pilaf – lamb, garlic, onion, carrot
Wash and dice the lamb for the pilaf. Peel 3 onions and all the carrots. Cut onions in thin half rings, carrots in long 1 cm thick slices. Peel the garlic, but do not separate into cloves.
Cauldron for Uzbek pilaf
Heat a cauldron or heavy-wall pot, add the oil and heat it until lightly smoky. Add the remaining onion and fry well until dark golden in colour. Take the onion out of the pan.
Zirvak is the base of the Uzbek pilaf.
Prepare zirvak (base of the Uzbek pilaf). Put the chopped onion into the cauldron, stir-fry it until dark golden in colour, about 5-7 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t stick.
Uzbek pilaf – fry the lamb
Add the sliced lamb to the onions. Stirring with a cooking spatula, fry the zirwak ingredients until browned and crispy. This can take about 10-15 minutes.
Put the carrots in the cauldron to the meat and onions. Fry, without stirring, for 3 minutes. Then mix all the contents of the cauldron and cook for 10 minutes, stirring lightly with a spatula.
Season with the mixture for the Uzbek pilaf.
Using your fingers or a pestle, mash the ziru and coriander. Add to the pilaf zirwak, along with the barberries and season with salt to taste. Optionally add a little more salt than you are used to: the extra will be absorbed by the rice.
Recipe photo: Uzbek pilaf in a cauldron, step 8.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the carrots are soft, 7-10 minutes. Add 2cm of boiling water to the cauldron. Add the hot pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Put the rice into the cauldron for pilaf.
Rinse the rice again, then allow the water to drain. Spread an even layer of rice on the zirwaq, turn the heat up to high and pour 3cm of boiling water over the cauldron with a slotted spoon.
Push the garlic cloves into the pilaf.
As soon as all the water has been absorbed, press the garlic cloves into the rice (halfway). Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the pilaf is cooked, covered.
Poke holes in the pilaf.
Lightly tap the rice with a skimmer. If the sound is deafening, pierce the rice with a thin chopstick all the way to the bottom. This way steam will escape through the holes.
Cover the cauldron with a plate and lid.
Level the surface, cover the Uzbek pilaf with a large flat plate and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and leave the pilaf on the heat for 30 minutes.
If you cook Uzbek pilaf in a bowl other than a cauldron, try to use thicker sides and a thicker bottom. Otherwise the ingredients will burn quickly and severely.
Good to know
Mutton, horse or beef are used for pilaf in Uzbekistan. Pork and chicken in this dish is nonsense! Many local chefs add yellow carrots rather than red carrots to the pilaf: they are less sweet, so they are considered the best companion to the other ingredients in the dish.