Wednesday, 11 May 2016
If there is a cooking competition, just whistle and I'll run to join in. When TastyEasyLamb asked me if I would like to create a recipe for the blogger competition using any cut of lamb as an ingredient, they didn't need to wait too long for my answer.
The competition is easy to enter, you just need to devise your own tasty recipe using any lamb cut and post on the blog. If you are interested to find out more, have a look at Lamb Recipe Challenge. But hurry, you've got just over a week to get involved.
Lamb dishes are popular in Russia, and there are many recipes from all over the ex-Soviet Union to choose from. The Uzbek plov (pilaf) and the lamb shashlik from the Caucases became a kitchen staple in many a Russian family. For an authentic plov you need a heavy cast-iron pot, well rounded at the bottom so that the slowly cooked meat and rice dish doesn't burn.
This dish brings back memories of my childhood, when we used to visit the friends of my parents. The father of the family was a Korean born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and was an excellent cook. His plov was the best I have ever tasted. He served it with lots of spicy vegetable side dishes.
To refresh my memory, I went to read an excellent blog post Secrets of an authentic Uzbek plov (in Russian). The author shares the recipe of plov as his Uzbek grandmother used to cook it. He cooks the plov for 15 people. I have adapted the recipe to suit a much more moderate size of a crowd to be fed as well as my cooking methods, as I don't have a heavy cast-iron pot for cooking outdoors.
I also talked to my Mum who cooks plov quite often, she said cumin seeds (zeera) and barberries are essential.
600g lamb (I used neck fillets)
2 medium onions
150ml sunflower oil
1tbsp pilau spice (for example, Bart)
500g basmati rice
2 heads of garlic
Slice two onions into thin rings. When the oil is very hot, add the onion rings to the deep frying pan. Cook for about 10 minutes until the onion get nicely browned.
Cut the lamb into big chunks and add to the onion. Keep stirring. Once the lamb chunks get browned, add the sliced carrots. Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring. Add the spices (cumin and pilau spice).
Pour enough hot boiling water over the meat & veg to cover it completely. Cook for about an hour on low, adding water to top up.
At this point, I transfer the meat into a heavy ceramic pot to continue cooking in the oven.
Add the basmati rice, and season well with salt.
Peel the outer layer of skin off the garlic heads, without separating the cloves. Insert the garlic deep inside the rice. Add hot water, it must cover the rice about 3cm above.
Cover the pot with the lid and put in the oven preheated to 180C.
Cook for 30+ minutes or more until the rice is completely cooked and all the liquid is absorbed.
Serve hot with the garlic cloves and pomegranate seeds (optional). Scatter a few chopped mint leaves.
I found Barberries in Waitrose Cooks' Ingredients isle. These dried berries add an extra sweet tart flavour to Persian dishes, as well as many recipes originating in the East.
I also used a Pilau blend from Bart. This is a rice seasoning containing onion, salt, red bell pepper, cardamom, cassia, bay leaf, garlic, fennel, black pepper, turmeric and cloves. It is very aromatic, and is a super ingredient for rice dishes.
If you enjoy lamb dishes, why don't you check out the lamb recipe which Alison from Dragons and Fairy Dust has cooked for the same competition - Lemon and cumin lamb fajitas.
Disclosure: I have received a burger press and meat skewers for taking part in the competition.
Adding my recipe to the Tea Time Treats linky hosted by Lavender and Lovage and The Hedgec0mbers
This month's theme is colourful.