Lamb Plov (Uzbek Rice Pilaf)

Plov warms my soul. Not because of the temperature that it is served at, but because it reminds me of family. This is not a dish that I’ve ever made or consumed by myself. It’s meant to be shared with a crowd. When someone makes it, the invitation goes out to everyone, “Come over, I’m making plov.” You know it’s going to be a great night!

While vodka and cornichons aren’t required when eating plov, I highly recommend them!
As I prepare to write out this recipe, I’m bracing myself for the onslaught of “my grandma didn’t make it that way” comments. I’m ready! As with most traditional recipes, every person/family/village will have their version. After a lifetime of eating delicious versions of plov, my cousins mother-in-law took the time to teach me. (Thank you D&K for letting me have access to L for an entire morning!!!!!!) No more “eyeballing” the ingredients, I finally had a definitive list of ingredients and technique. Definitely needed to have the technique.
This recipe also fits my criteria need and love of flexibility. Once you get the base recipe and technique down it’s easily adjustable. If you love carrots, use more! Love garlic, add more! Not a fan of cumin? Leave it out. Make whatever adjustments you want, but make it. Make it and enjoy it with the people you love!

**Note about photos: Please follow the recipe, as I didn’t photograph every step of the process.**

Lightly brown the onions in a bit of olive oil.
Don’t worry about softening them, there’s plenty of time for that.
Shredded carrots from Trader Joe’s or 4 large carrots, shredded.
Cut them a bit so that they aren’t too long and stringy.
Saute the carrots with the onions for a minute or two.
Cut the lamb off the bone into bite side pieces.
Brown the lamb with the onions and carrots.
When all of the meat has browned, add enough water to cover the lamb.
About 2-3 cups, depending on the size of your pot.
Stir occasionally while the lamb braises, about 1 hour.
Add water and spices to the lamb.
Taste. Adjust for seasoning and then add rice.
Stir rice to coat each grain and try to make a “mountain” in the middle of the pot. If it doesn’t happen, don’t worry.
Cover with a heavy lid, placing a paper towel or clean kitchen towel between lid and pot. 

Lamb Plov

Serves 8-10 as an entree



2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions, diced
10oz carrots, shredded (1 bag from Trader Joe’s) or 4 carrots coarsely grated
4 pounds of lamb shoulder, about 10 slices with bones, cut into bite size pieces (or 4 pound boneless leg of lamb)
2-3 cups of water (approximately… read below)

7 ½ cups of HOT water (almost double the amount of rice you have)
1 entire head of garlic (or 3 teaspoons crushed garlic)
2.5 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground corriander
3 tablespoons kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

4 cups of jasmine or other long grain rice like basmati, rinsed and drained

2 thick paper towels or a clean kitchen towel


1. In a heavy bottomed cast iron pot, heat olive oil on High heat. Add onion and saute until it starts to brown.
2. Add shredded carrots and saute until softened.
3. Add lamb and brown the meat.
4. Cover lamb with water (approximately 2-3 cups… depending on your pot size).
5. Let cook, uncovered, on Medium/High heat until majority of water has evaporated, stirring periodically. This takes almost an hour.
5a. If your lamb shoulder had bones in it… and IF you want to take the bones out, this would be a good time. Plenty of people cook plov WITH the bones, and that’s fine!! But I’d rather take the bones out now than have to think about it when I’m serving it to the kids.
6. Add 7 ½ cups of HOT water to the pot.
7. Add whole head of garlic and spices to the pot. Taste. It should be “stronger” than you think it should be, because once you add the rice, the flavor will dilute.
8. Add rice. Turn heat up to High.
9. Stir to get the rice kernels wet and try to make a “mountain” in the middle of the pot with the rice and meat. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. Don’t stress.
10. Bring to a boil and turn heat to simmer/low.
11. Cover with a heavy lid… with a paper towel or a kitchen towel under the lid. I don’t know why this step is necessary, but it is. So don’t mess with it, ok?
12. Set timer for 20 minutes… and walk away. NO peeking!
13. When the timer goes off, turn off the heat… remove lid and towel. Fluff and taste. 
14. Add additional seasoning (salt, pepper, corriander, cumin), if necessary.
15. Have some sliced cornichons on hand… and enjoy!
Eat, Drink & Be Yummy!

1 thought on “Lamb Plov (Uzbek Rice Pilaf)

  1. Pingback: Borscht with Beef (Борщ с мясом) | Make-Meals Mama

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