“Palov”, also known as “Osh” is a classical main dish of Central Asian countries. It is rich, filling and very tasty if prepared right. Nowadays there are many ingredients like garbanzo beans, barberries, eggs, quince, pomegranate incorporated to this dish. But the main ingredients like onions, rice, oil and meat remain unchanged.
For many years I thought that palov is the dish that is specifically prepared by men and only men can perfect it. Well, now I think every woman can be great at making an outstanding Uzbek Palov. Please prove your men wrong :)
As I was growing up, my dad would make palov once a week. It is almost a tradition for Uzbeks to make this dish every Thursday. Years later, when I moved to US, I started longing for the taste of this unique treasure of Central Asia. With the guidance of my dad over the phone, I made my first palov in 2002. Obviously, it didn’t come out as well as my ego desired. But I believed that there is always a room for improvement. Since then, I have come a long way in the cooking department. I hope you can tell :)
After the palov recipe with a pressure cooker, I had many requests to post an original way of making Palov. This is a very basic recipe with step-by-step instructions and pictures. While I try to make it easier to follow it by looking at the pictures, please carefully read the instructions above each set of pictures before you proceed. I hope this recipe can be a guide to anyone who is looking forward to making this delicious dish.
It is essential to know your rice before making Palov. I highly recommend reading the part where I talk about rice in the Uzbek Palov recipe I wrote earlier. When fully cooked, rice should keep its shape, but should not have a hard spot in the middle OR it shouldn’t be too soft and sticky.
Another good alternative to Uzbek rice is a “parboiled rice”. Beware though, as it takes more time to cook (extra 15 minutes at the final stage). It is firmer and less sticky than “Botan” and “Arborio”. Nutrition-wise, parboiled rice is the closest to brown rice.
If you have any questions about the type of rice you want to use, or about the process of cooking, please feel free to leave a comment on the bottom of this page. I will respond promptly.
- 2 lbs fresh lamb (better if you have some meat on the bone for the taste)
- 2 medium onions
- 5 medium carrots
- 3,5 cups of rice
- 1 bulb of garlic washed (optional) if the skin is to think remove the top layer only*
- 1 cup of canola oil
- 3 tsp of salt
- 1,5 tsp of ground cumin (or 1 tsp of ground cumin & 1/2 tsp of whole cumin)
- pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cups of previously boiled water
Clean, wash and julienne carrots like in the below pictures.
Cut the onion in half circles measuring 1/4 of an inch. Keep the meat in bigger chunks. The reason why I asked to obtain lamb on the bone is to have a nicely flavored bullion. Bullion is ultimately going to give a delightful taste to the rice. If you are purchasing your meat from a butcher shop they always have meat on the bone. If you do not have the bony meat under your discretion, don’t worry about it and proceed with what you have.
Heat the medium cast iron pan or a regular non stick pan. Add the oil and heat it on high heat until you see a slight smoke (do not wait too long).
Using a skimmer carefully and slowly lower the meat in to the oil. You should immediately see the boiling sensation around the meat. Keep on each side for 30 seconds and keep frying until desired color is reached. Remember you are frying the meat on a high heat. Once the meat has a slight brown crust put the onions on top. Add pinch of the cumin half of the salt and the black pepper. Mix everything well and keep mixing to prevent the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Since you are cooking on high heat these steps are going to happen quickly. Stay on top of everything. The reason why the main ingredients are cooked on high heat is to have nicely caramelized and tasty base. Be sure not to overdo it. If you think you are more comfortable cooking on lower heat, by all means, do so.
Color of the onions is the essential element do determine the color of the Palov. If you are aiming for a lighter color Palov, there is no need to much caramelize the onions. If you like a darker version, caramelize the onions nicely as shown in the picture below.
Once the onions reach the desired color, put ready carrots in the pan. Add remaining salt and cumin. Stir everything well and fry until carrots are relatively soft. Keep stirring every 30 seconds to prevent the carrots sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the carrots are ready turn the heat down to medium (5 in electric stove tops) and pour previously prepared 8 cups of boiled water.
Water will start simmering but not boiling. Add the garlic bulb, push it deeper in to the bullion and let everything simmer on medium heat for 1 hour. Meanwhile, depending on the type of the rice you are using, wash it thoroughly. Sometimes it takes multiple washes to get the starch out of the rice.
When the time is up, remove the garlic bulb and evenly distribute the rice with the skimmer. If the water is not enough, add some more water. If using the Basmati rice, keep the water level 1 inch above the rice, for any other time keep it 1/2 inch above the rice level. From this point, until Palov is ready, there is no mixing the ingredients together. You need to keep everything layered until Palov is ready.
Drop the garlic bulb back in the pan. Remember – your heat is on medium. Be attentive, water may evaporate faster than you expect.
Once the rice starts absorbing the water, take out the garlic bulb. Using the skimmer, flip the top layer of the rice to keep it evenly moist (this is the original way of letting the rice absorb the water. If you want to speed up this process close the lid of the pot for about 8 minutes and in medium-high heat let it stand for 10 minutes or until the rice absorbs the water. Check every 2 minutes, because you do not want the bottom of the Palov burnt).
Check the sides of the pan to make sure there is no water remaining. Turn the heat down to medium-low and quickly make a dome from the rice. Put the garlic bulb on top of the rice and push it in.
Cover the rice with a plate suitable for high temperatures. Put the lid on the pan and TURN THE HEAT DOWN TO LOWEST. In electric stoves it is 1. In Gas stoves it is barely visible flame. Let Palov rest for 20 minutes (Basmati 30 minutes).
If you are using the faster method I suggested above, 10 minutes are sufficient for the rice to get fully cooked.
Once the time is up, remove the lid and the plate. Remove the garlic bulb, extract the meat and mix the rest of the ingredients using the skimmer.
Cut up the meat into a small cubes and serve it on top of the Palov.