Types of pilaf and the secrets of their cooking at home; Photo recipes dishes in a cauldron on the fire, in a saucepan or pan on the stove, as well as in a slow cooker and pressure cooker
Pilaf — This is a very famous oriental dish, which has become increasingly popular in Central Asia. The history of the origin of pilaf is very vague. However, it is believed that its roots lie in India. This theory is supported by the fact that it is customary to tint pilaf with spices such as turmeric and saffron, which is typical of Indian dishes. In addition, the name of this dish is very similar to the word “pulāka”, which is translated from Sanskrit — “boiled rice”.
Although many nations cook pilaf, and recipes for its preparation number in the thousands, yet there is one common feature for all variations. It lies in the fact that the dish consists of two parts:
- First part — zirvak or gara (this is a kind of thick sauce, which may consist of meat, fish, vegetables, mushrooms, dried fruits, spices);
- the second part of — croup (most often it is rice, although mint, pea, corn, wheat, etc. can also be used).
The variety of types of pilaf is simply amazing! Therefore, we will try to deal with the main ones. All species, of course, cannot be listed.
So, the most famous pilaf is Uzbek plov. However, in different parts of this sunny country these dishes are prepared a little differently, that is, there are some peculiarities. The classic option is the Fergana plov. All other types of Uzbek pilaf are prepared on its technological basis. So, the Fergana pilaf is prepared as follows, first oil is ignited, then Zirvak is stewed in it, then rice is added to it and the whole thing is stewed. In the end, the rice is evaporated, that is, they simply let it stand under a tightly closed lid.
Samarkand plov is quite famous in Uzbekistan, which can be opposed to Bukhara plov. The peculiarity of this type of dish is that its components do not mix. Thus, each person can regulate the presence of one or another component of the pilaf in his plate. In addition, Samarkand pilaf is cooked only in the morning, and it is eaten in the morning. The Bukhara varinat of the dish is different in that the ingredients in it are mixed. Prepare and serve it all day. Another version of the Uzbek plov is Tashkent plov. It has a more saturated color, which is achieved by roasting onions not after roasting meat, but before it.
It is very similar in cooking technology with Uzbek pilaf Turkmen. However, instead of traditional mutton, they use game (quite often pheasant meat). The basis of the dish is green rice. Instead of carrots in apricot put apricot. Sesame oil is used as fat. Turkmen pilaf is served most often with an extract of pomegranate juice or with a sour sauce called Albuhar.
Tajik plov is also similar to Uzbek plov. The only difference is that for this option the rice is pre-soaked (approximately for one or two hours). In addition, Tajiks like to add chickpeas to pilaf, which is soaked in advance (9-12 hours before cooking). Also an unusual component of the Tajik version of the dish is a quince, which is cut into either small cubes or thin straws. In addition, garlic is put in pilaf, but not in slices, but in whole heads. It is also worth noting that pilaf eel is popular in Tajikistan, in which rice is replaced by the same kind of cereals made from noodles.
Tajik plov, like Uzbek, has regional peculiarities. For example, in the Khojent and Dushanbe versions, instead of the usual chopped meat, complex multi-component minced meat is used (minced meat with an egg or minced meat with grape leaves).
A rather unusual type of pilaf is Azerbaijani pilaf. The fact is that all its components are prepared and served separately from each other, without mixing with each other even on a plate. Thus, at the Azerbaijani dinner table you will see three dishes: meat, rice and herbs. Azerbaijani pilaf is eaten, eating meat with rice or lavash with rice, and eating greens while drinking.
Another interesting feature of this type of dish is that it is served slightly lukewarm. In addition, rice in the pilaf must be crumbly and in no way glued. Otherwise, it will not be plov anymore …
By the way, Azerbaijani pilaf, in which the meat component is replaced with egg, is served on one dish. Below on the plate is rice, and on top of it is laid a dressing of eggs and spicy herbs.
And finally, we would like to talk about another interesting variety of pilaf — about Armenian pilaf. It is characterized by the addition of a variety of dried fruits. Particularly popular is sweet plov, which does not include meat. Its components are rice and dried fruits (most often, prunes, dates, raisins and dried apricots). In addition, fresh fruits are added to it: quince, cherry plum, apples, etc. By the way, Armenians call such pilaf hapama. It is usually prepared in case of any celebration, for example, a wedding. In the modern interpretation, any dried and fresh fruits, as well as any nuts, are added to the Armenian plov.
Types of pilaf are divided not only by nationality. You can separate them by appointment. So, pilafs can be festive, timed to any celebration, commemorative and everyday. In addition, they are cooked at home on the stove, as well as in nature in a cauldron located above an open fire. In modern realities, the way of cooking pilaf is determined even by the presence of some kitchen appliances. So you can cook this dish using a slow cooker or pressure cooker.
However, we will not bore you with stories about all the other types of pilaf, but rather let us turn to the issue of its intricacies.
Starting the story about the secrets of cooking pilaf, we focus on the fact that we will speak about Uzbek pilaf, which is, in our understanding, the classic look of this dish. So, what you need to know the beginner plovaru? First of all, you need to choose the right ingredients. First of all it concerns rice, because in the process of cooking it should turn out crumbly, and not glued together into a homogeneous mass. Therefore, the variety of this cereal is of paramount importance. Not every type of rice is suitable for cooking pilaf. However, in more detail we will tell about it in the next section of the article.
Uzbek pilaf, as well as any other pilaf, cannot be imagined without the presence of spices and spices in it. However, it is necessary to understand that those fragrant mixes that are sold in all grocery stores are far from the original. In addition, for each spice is determined its time to bookmark the dish. Thus, it is obvious that a mixture of spices, added at one time, is rather a trend of our modern life, which does not tolerate any delay in anything. So, if you want to cook a real pilaf, then be sure to study the question of what spices should be used and at what point in cooking, each of them should be added.
In cooking rice, the issue used for cooking is also important. Important, but not critical. We will talk about the utensils that are used in traditional cooking options. However, this does not mean that in the absence of a cast iron cauldron in your home, you will have to rush to the store immediately. Kitchen utensils can be replaced, making only a correction for the temperature during cooking, so that the dish does not burn.
So, we will consider questions about the choice of rice, the choice of spices and their tab, as well as the necessary kitchen utensils in more detail.
Choosing the right rice for cooking this pilau is not difficult. Since the dish should end up crumbly, you need to choose solid grains, which coefficient of swelling or water absorption is high. Devzira is considered the most suitable variety. It is grown in Uzbekistan in the Fergana Valley, which, as mentioned earlier, is considered the birthplace of the classical Uzbek pilaf.
In addition to the varieties of devzira, such varieties of rice will be suitable:
- arpa shaly
Not suitable for making real pilaf rice of Burmese, Vietnamese, and Iranian origin. So, for example, cereal from Burma requires an increase in all other components of the dish twice. It turns out it tastes, as a rule, lightly salted and lean. Therefore, using such a variety, you will have to wash the rice up to 5 times, and then soak it in warm salt water for 3-4 hours. In addition, as mentioned earlier, it is necessary to double the number of other components. Only then will it become possible to get a taste of pilaf similar to Uzbek. Iranian rice, for example, has a specific smell for which it is valued at home. However, in Uzbek pilaf, this is completely unacceptable.
In addition, crushed rice and the chopping of it are not suitable for cooking this dish.
It’s simply impossible to imagine real pilaf without spices and spices! However, which ones should be used? Let’s see.
The main spice, which must necessarily be present in the pilaf is Zira or Cumin. Use its Uzbek version better. In this case, you get the traditional classic taste of the dish. Add cumin at the very beginning of cooking, a pinch after lard is melted in a cauldron, and also closer to the end of cooking, when rice is almost ready. The second time is usually added about one and a half teaspoons of spice. Put it in the middle of the dish, after making a recess.
While cooking zirvaka, at the moment when it begins to boil, unpeeled head of garlic is sent to it, as well as a couple of whole pods of hot red pepper. In this case, it is worth paying special attention to the pepper. His pods must be whole, without cracks. Otherwise, the pilaf will be so spicy that you simply cannot eat it.
Before laying the rice in a zirvak, garlic and pepper are removed from the cauldron, and then these components are returned to the dish at the same time that the cumin is added again.
Another added to the traditional pilaf onions. In mixtures of spices, it is usually present in dried form. However, it is better to add onions fresh, either before or after roasting the meat.
Dried barberry can be a piquant note of pilaf. It is not necessary to add it, but you can experiment. However, put it in moderation, otherwise the pilaf will turn sour.
You can also tint rice with spices such as saffron and turmeric. Putting one of the spices in the dish should also be moderate. Saffron, for example, in too large quantities, will make pilaf bitter.
As for dishes for cooking pilaf, it will not surprise you with a long list of necessities. In essence, you only need a cast-iron cauldron, in which the dish will be cooked and the ordinary skimmer, with which you need to gently stir the rice, so that it is cooked evenly.
We draw your attention to the fact that in the absence of a cast-iron cauldron at home, you can easily replace it with a thick-bottomed pan or an ordinary steel pan, and even a frying pan. In the case of «replacement» just have to carefully monitor the temperature, so that the zirvak or rice does not burn. Although if you are cooking a dish on a fire, then you cannot do without a cauldron, of course!
It is not recommended to use enameled ware for cooking pilaf.
In addition, at home, you can cook pilaf using a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Although such varinta dishes are difficult to classify traditional, but they still have the right to exist. You can learn more about this kind of pilaf interpretations from the step-by-step photo recipes of this section of the site.
Whatever pilaf you plan to cook, remember that the most important thing to do is with the soul! And then your dish will surely please both you and your loved ones.
* Detailed step-by-step recipes for cooking pilaf can be found in this section of the site. These are real master classes, because they are provided not only clear instructions for each action. There are also photos of each stage of cooking. Thanks to this, the process of cooking pilaf, both in the classic version and in the transformed original one, will not be any difficulty for you!