Uzbek plov is a simple and delicious beef and rice dish flavored with lots of sautéed onions, tender carrots, buttery chickpeas, and sweet bursts of raisins. Finish off this savory dish with intact spicy jalapeños for whoever likes a little kick and the most tender and sweet garlic bulbs.
The first time I had Uzbek plov was ten years ago when we lived in a place with very few halal options. Somehow we happened across an Uzbek restaurant that was so beautiful inside, complete with floor seating. We were so happy to find a nice halal food place and then even happier when we received the food! Everything was beautifully plated and absolutely delicious.
That first day we had Uzbek manti, which is a steamed dumpling filled with meat and served with a fresh and tangy tomato sauce and sliced red onions; Cornish hens which were roasted and seasoned with a lot of garlic, and Uzbek plov served with a whole garlic bulb right in the center of the plate!
At first it seemed odd, but as soon as we took that first bite we knew we would be back again and again. The sweet and tender garlic just melts into the sticky rich rice and the meat was just fall apart delicious.
At that time I really wanted to learn how to make it on my own but there was not much information on the internet on its recipe. However, as time went on people shared more of their culture online and I finally began to find recipes that didn’t feel too intimidating.
So I figured out a way to make it on my own—a way anyone anywhere can make it without needing any special ingredients! The flavor is spot on and always takes us back to a decade ago, when we were always hunting for a good halal restaurant. Now we can have it right at home, anytime we want, and you can too!
The ingredients needed to make this recipe are simple staples that are found in almost all homes:
- Salt and pepper
- Cumin seeds
- Sliced carrots
- Whole jalapeños
- Whole garlic bulbs
- Canned chickpeas
- And rice!
The first part of the recipe is cooking the beef. I like to use my pressure cooker to make the process quicker and ensure really tender pieces of meat. However, I have done this plenty of times on the stove top and it works just fine! The process just takes a little longer.
Start by heating up oil in a pot (or on sauté mode in the pressure cooker) until it is very very hot and you can see the oil shimmering. then add in your meat and fry it until it develops a good amount of color.While the beef is frying slice up onions so you can add them in as soon as it’s ready! Season the beef with salt, black pepper, and cumin. Give it a good mix.
Add all the the sliced onions and stir together. If you are cooking at the stovetop, at this point cover and cook on medium low for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat releases its juices. Then add water and bring to a gentle simmer, cover again, and cook for ~two hours or until the meat is completely tender. It may need to cook longer, depending on the meat.
If you are using an instant pot, cover the onion and beef mixture for 10 minutes to help the meat release its juices. Then seal and pressure cook for 30 minutes. There is no need to add any water and the meat will pressure cook in the juices it released. Once it’s cooked transfer to a large pot in which you have any space to add the rest of the layers.
Keeping the pot on medium heat, add a layer of sliced matchstick carrots (slicing yourself is better than using pre sliced carrots because you want them to be a little thicker). Then nestle in whole jalapeños. Remove any loose layers of skin from whole garlic bulbs and push that in too. After that sprinkle on a can of rinsed chickpeas and raisins.
Finally, wash some rice until the water runs clear. I use basmati because that’s what I always have on hand and the texture is similar to traditional Uzbek rice. Spread the rice out in an even layer, then cover with fresh cool water. Season again with more salt.
Bring the pot to a simmer then cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes. An extra optional step to ensure all the rice gets completely cooked is to add aluminum foil first and then the pot lid. This will help steam the top of the rice too.
After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and let the pot sit on the warm stovetop for an additional 10-15 minutes. Then uncover and bask in the aroma of delicious plov. Using a large spoon, gently fluffy the rice and scoop from the bottom up the mix everything thoroughly.
Serve on a platter or straight from the pot, ensuring the jalapeños and garlic bulbs are right on top for anyone who would like to try it! This works deliciously with a tomato and red onion salad to add a light and refreshing side. Enjoy!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes using pressure cooker or 2-3 hours on stovetop.
- 1/2 cup oil
- 4 pounds bone in beef
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 3 large onions, sliced
- 3 large carrots, sliced into matchsticks
- 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 3 large jalapeños
- 2 whole garlic bulbs, extra outer layers removed
- 4 cups basmati rice, rinsed till water runs clear
- 7 cups water
1. Heat oil in an pressure cooker or stovetop until very hot. Add beef and fry until golden. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin seeds
2. Add sliced onions and mix. Cover and cook on medium until the meat releases juices. Pressure cook for 30 minutes or stovetop cook for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender, adding water as needed
3. When the meat is ready, spread of over carrots in an even layer. Then nestle in jalapeños and garlic bulbs.
4. Spread over washed basmati rice and pour in water. Season once again with salt then bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes
5. Turn off heat and leave pot on the warm stove for an additional 10 minutes. Uncover pot and mix gently until everything is homogeneous.
6. Serve with jalapeños and garlic bulbs on top and with an optional side of a fresh salad. Enjoy!
If, for any reason, after the allotted cook time the rice is still too firm, add an additional 1/2 cup or water and transfer the entire pot to the oven at 325° for 15-20 minutes.