For my first recipe, I have to start off with my most favorite Uzbek dish. This is one of those dishes reserved to be cooked by men. In a culture where men sit around sipping tea while women cook that is definitely unusual. Cooking pilaf in Uzbek culture would be similar to the pride that American men take in cooking barbecue. In Uzbekistan, men show off their plov skills. Given the need to transliterate this dish into English, pilaf is sometimes called plov.
While the recipe below is the most traditional one made with veal and garlic, it can also have a number of other sweet and savory variations.
1Use one garlic head per guest, sprinkle a teaspoon olive oil on top and wrap in foil. Roast in a medium-hot oven (180°C) for about an hour. The garlic flesh should be soft and brownish when done.
2Peel and cut the onions in half, then thinly slice crosswise. Peel and grate the carrots lengthwise into long thin strips.
3Soak the barberries in water. Grind the spices to a fine powder.
4For the lamb fat, use the white patches found on the lamb. Make sure to include this part. The fat is key to the taste. Melt the fat in a Dutch oven over high temperature and use a spatula to get as much liquid fat out as you can. Remove and discard the remaining fat pieces from the liquid fat.
5Keep the liquid fat in the Dutch oven. Add the lamb cubes and quickly fry on all sides until nicely browned. Reserve the meat and cover with foil.
6Heat the remaining juices and sauté the onions until soft and light brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add the ground spices and mix well for 1 more minute. Add the grated carrots and cook for 3 more minutes or until carrots are soft. Add the reserved meat and any juices. Mix well and reduce heat to medium hot.
7Add 2 cups of rice and 4 cups of hot vegetable broth. Cover and simmer over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. Turn frequently to make sure the rice does not stick at the bottom. When plov is cooked through, add the drained barberries, remove the lid and wait until all liquid has evaporated.