Plov is a signature dish of the Bukharan Jews of Central Asia. (They are referred to as Bukharian Jews in Israel). Often slow cooked in a wood burning oven, it is served to guests as a symbol of hospitality, for holidays, and at special life events including weddings.
Giora Shimoni started making a quick stovetop version of the dish after his 12-year-old son, "who is by far our family's pickiest eater, came home from his friend's house singing praises about this amazing rice dish. The song," says Shimoni, "went something like this: 'It was the most delicious dinner I have ever eaten in my whole life!' Of course I immediately called [my friend] Ilanit for the recipe. I was happy to discover he was talking about a rice, chicken, and vegetable combination prepared in one pot."
Miri's Recipe Testing Notes and Tips:
Though the recipe below does not include it, Plov is traditionally spiced with cumin, and often served with roasted garlic. If you'd like to enhance the flavor of the basic recipe, season the sauteed vegetables and chicken with 1 to 3 teaspoons of cumin and a touch of cinnamon before adding the rice. If desired, roast a head or two of garlic while the plov cooks, then serve on the side.
- 5 tablespoons oil (enough to cover bottom of pot)
- 3 onions, peeled, trimmed, and chopped
- 6 carrots, peeled and grated thick
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 to 3 pounds (1-1.5 kilo) skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into small bite-size squares
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 1/2 cups medium grain rice, such as Basmati
- 3 1/2 cups boiling water (enough to cover the rice by 1/2 inch or 1 cm)
1. In a Dutch oven or large pot, warm the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, and then the carrots. Stir in the sugar. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Lay the chicken on top of the onions and carrots. Don't stir in order to maintain a layer of vegetables and a distinct layer of meat. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt and pepper on the chicken. Cook the chicken, gently turning the pieces over in the middle, until the chicken turns white.
3. Add rice on top of the chicken. Don't stir because the layers of vegetables and chicken should remain undisturbed, but distribute the rice evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add boiling water. Turn the heat down to low and cover.
4. After about 15 minutes, scrape down the sides and poke 6 or 7 holes through the rice to the bottom of the pot with the handle of a wooden spoon. Cover and cook for another 20-25 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
5. Serve in reverse order of the layers. Put the rice, then the chicken, then the vegetables onto the plates.