Selection of ingredients The
basis of real pilaf are two main ingredients — meat and rice. In Central Asia, where the Muslim religion predominates, only lamb is used for this dish, sometimes it can be replaced with beef. The choice of rice is even more picky. In Uzbek cuisine, preference is given to a local and very valuable variety called devizira. Since ancient times it has been grown on the rocky lands of the Fergana Valley, located on the border of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. A distinctive sign of such rice is a dark burgundy scar, which can be seen on each grain. It is a trace from a natural shell remaining after hammering. In addition, rice has a distinctive pinkish color. It is also given fine particles of reground peel.
Previously, the devizira variety was difficult to find outside of Central Asia. But due to the fact that it began to be grown in the Krasnodar region, such rice became more available, including on the territory of Russia. As a last resort, this eastern product is allowed to be replaced by any variety in which there are no broken or crushed grains.
Another important ingredient in real pilaf is carrots. In Uzbek cuisine the yellow or red variety of this root crop is used. However, real connoisseurs advise preferring red carrots as it is firmer and keeps shape better in the finished dish.
In the classic Uzbek recipe, pilaf is cooked on chicken lard, an alternative to it can serve as cotton oil. For other vegetable oils, varieties that do not have a pronounced taste and smell should be chosen. Rice or corn oil, as well as grape seed oil are perfect for pilaf.
Preparation and proportions
In Uzbekistan, pilaf is necessarily prepared for all significant events – weddings, national holidays, birth of children or even post-mornings. Traditional utensils are considered a special metal boiler — Kazan, which has a semicircular bottom. It is put on a stove, a burning hearth or a regular household stove. As an option, you can use a low and wide pan with a thick bottom.
For an ideal pilaf in Uzbek, it is also important to observe the correct proportions of ingredients. For a family of four people usually take the following amount of foods:
- 800g meat;
- 800g rice;
- 800g carrots;
- 150g onion;
- 1 head of garlic;
- 2 pieces peppers;
- 200 g vegetable oil;
- 1 tbsp zira;
- salt to taste.
To start, the rice must be soaked in hot water with the addition of one tablespoon of salt. The water temperature must necessarily be around 60 degrees to prepare the starch contained in the rice for further heat treatment on the stove. According to the sensations it will be water, in which you can only briefly lower your hand without feeling discomfort. Presoaking rice should take at least 30 minutes, and better – 2 hours.
Meat should be cut into large pieces, onions – half rings. For the pilaf in Uzbek carrots are shinked with a long thin straws. If cooking oil is used, it is advisable to pump it until the appearance of a blue haze and then fry a small bulb in it. When the onion becomes a rich golden color, it can be cleaned and proceed directly to the cooking process.
First in well-heated oil omit chopped onions. It is roasted until golden, then added lamb. It is desirable that the meat evenly cover the bottom of the pan in one layer. So all the pieces will be cooked at one time.
Meat is stirred periodically, achieving crust formation on all sides. Next, you can pour out the carrots and add zira to it. It is the combination of these two ingredients that gives the pilaf a specific, recognizable taste.
In the stages listed, the pilaf is cooked over high heat. As soon as the carrots become soft, the fire is lulled to a minimum and poured the meat with the vegetables boiling water. Water should only slightly cover all ingredients. The resulting broth in Uzbek cuisine is called zirvak. If cold water is used at this stage, during its heating the carrots will boil and the pilaf will turn into porridge.
Zirvak is left to boil over a low heat for 30-40 minutes. After this time, a whole head of garlic and a whole peppers are lowered into the broth. It is also possible to salt at this stage. On the above volume of products will leave approximately a tablespoon of salt.
Finally, you can do rice. It is necessary to drain the liquid and gently, not to break the rice grains, rinse 4-5 times in warm water. The washed rice is immediately lowered into the kazan. It is distributed in an even layer on top of the zirvak. The broth should completely cover the grits. Otherwise, boiling water should be added to cover the rice with about a margin of 1.5 cm. Now you can turn on the heavy fire again.
During the boiling process, the rice can be slightly stirred, trying not to stir the meat layer. When all the water on top is evaporated, you can spoon vertical recesses to the bottom to speed up the evaporation process from the bottom of the pan.
Once the boil is over, the rice is harvested in the centre of the slide as on the slab, the pan walls cool quickly and the grains can glue. Fire is again lulled to a minimum. The pilaf is covered with a suitable size plate. On top put 3-4 paper towels and put a lid on the pan. In this form leave the pilaf languishing on the plate for another 40 minutes. Paper towels are needed to soak up excess moisture. If they are wet during the process of sinking, they should be changed.
The perfect pilaf in Uzbek turns out crumbly, fragrant, with a beautiful golden hue. In Central Asia, it is usually served a light vegetable salad of tomatoes and red onions.