Our website has moved! Redirecting to RecipeStudio.com...
If this does not work, please click here.

Lamb Pilaf

Monday, September 27, 2010

Every home chef has his or her own recipe for lamb pilaf. Different ways to cook rice, different spices, different fats and oils, etc. ... My recipe is a compilation of many and my own experience put together. I like to cook pilaf: standing over the range, stirring meat, and breathing in this wonderful aromatic blend of spices and lamb. This makes me feel I'm in an exotic place somewhere in the Middle East cooking for a sultan ready for his next night of exciting tales. Maybe he would cut my throat if he doesn't like my pilaf, maybe not if he likes a new story and his heart would be softened. And if he likes my pilaf, maybe he would go that far and make me his favourite wife. Imagine yourself there for a moment, and then quickly escape to reality. :)

What you need:
2 lb lamb with some fat on
3 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 carrot, grated
6 cloves garlic, sliced
Fresh ginger, finely diced, about 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Spices: red and black pepper, cardamon, coriander, etc.
1.5 tbsp dried barberries
Vegetable oil, 4-5 tbsp
2 cups of long grain rice + 2.5 cups filtered water
Chopped greens (cilantro is a must)

Cut lamb in bite size pieces, heat oil on medium heat, and saute lamb in a big frying pan until slightly browned. Especially make sure that little pieces of fat are browned. Add carrots, onions, salt, peppers, ginger, and continue to saute for 5 more minutes. Then add spices, stir well, cover with boiling water, and simmer on low until meat is tender, about 1 hour depending on the age of the lamb.
While meat is cooking, prepare rice. I cook it separately, since it can easily lose its shape if cooked together with meat. So, rinse rice well in cold water, drain, then add 2.5 cups of filtered water, salt (about 1 tsp coarse Kosher will do), and put on high. Constantly stirring, bring to boil, reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Do not open the lid! After 15 minutes remove from heat with cover on, and let stand for 20 minutes. This way you will get rice where all grains are separate, not sticky. In 20 minutes fluff rice with a wooden fork (it works best).
When the liquid in meat is reduced approximately in half, taste for salt, add more if necessary, and mix thoroughly into rice, making sure all rice grains are evenly covered with meat sauce. At the end mix in barberries and heat through on the lowest heat for about 10-15 minutes.
Serve very hot on a big serving dish, with lots of chopped greens, sliced tomatoes, and good red wine.

Lamb pilaf is nothing near my quick Smoked Chicken Pilaf or simple vegetarian pilafs that I plan to post later - it is rich food with a lot of character.
My recipe is not a traditional way of cooking pilaf since usually meat and rice are cooked together. But after a few fiascoes in the kitchen when the rice turned out sticky and soupy, I had to find more reliable and almost guaranteed way to cook pilaf. Believe me, this pilaf is not much worse that the traditional one.
My mom brought lamb pilaf recipe from Uzbekistan where they do not use oil, but lamb's fat from rear undertail area. It is cooked outside in big cauldrons on the open fire, and cooking is a real show. Only men are allowed to cook pilaf, women are considered not fit for this honorable task (talk about women's rights in the East). Their pilaf is unbelievably tasty, rice is delicious, covered with aromatic fat of lamb that is saturated with spices. You cannot get the same result in a small kitchen, but you certainly can try to achieve something similar. By the way, traditionally pilaf is finger-eaten where all five fingers form a small portion that goes directly to one's mouth, and fingers are licked after. Actually, it is a very tasty way to  eat pilaf. A little messy though... :)
Carrots for traditional pilaf are julienned. They fall apart while cooking, so I thought why not to use my good old grater. At Middle East bazaars they sell finely julienned carrots ready for pilaf, but we don't have this convenience.
You can use different spices to your liking and experiment with whatever you like. Barberries add a  tangy tinge to it, so please do not ignore it. I also sometimes don't peel garlic, but throw in a few unpeeled cloves (Uzbeks even put in whole bulbs). When you find a clove in your bowl of steaming pilaf later, just suck stewed garlic out - it is so good.

Hey, Alex, am I your favourite wife today?.. :)

1 comment:

Masha S. said...

Mmmm... I wish I were there...
Is ginger a new thing? I don't remember you putting it in before. Was I just oblivious?

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.