You can't go anywhere in Uzbekistan without trying its national dish. Plov (also known as osh) is an oily rice-based dish with pieces of meat, grated carrots, onions and, if you are particularly fortunate, roasted garlic and hard-boiled egg.
It is typically only available at lunchtime, and is popular at weddings and other large celebrations when huge quantities are cooked in a single dish. Plov invariably is accompanied by obi non (flat bread) and is washed down with green tea, the astringency of which helps to cut through the mutton fat. Fancy making it yourself? Here's how.
1kg of lamb shoulder separated from the bone and cubed
1kg paella rice
250ml sunflower oil
1kg peeled carrots cut into 1cm lengths
3 whole garlic bulbs
3 medium-sized onions sliced thinly
1 tbsp cumin
pinch of salt
2 chillies (optional)
You will also need a 5-litre cooking pot.
1. Wash and soak the rice in cold tap water.
2. Heat the oil in the cooking pot over a high flame and deep fry the meat until it is golden brown. Take the meat out and put to one side.
3. Fry the onions until they are golden and then add the meat again, as well as the carrots. Heat for 20 minutes (stirring frequently) or until the carrots are soft and slightly caramelised. Add the cumin.
4 Reduce heat and add water to cover the carrots and meat. Leave it to gently simmer for one hour or until most of the water has evaporated.
5. Place the whole bulbs of garlic on the top of the meat and carrots.
6. Add the rice that has been soaking on top of the meat and carrot layer in the cooking pot, and then cover contents with 2cm depth of boiling water. Boil it gently until the rice has completely absorbed the water. Be careful it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
7. Reduce the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Allow the plov to steam for 20 minutes. If you think it might be catching, remove it from the heat entirely.
8. Remove the garlic bulbs and chillies and put them to one side. Gently mix the contents of the cooking pot and serve on a large serving plate, the garlic bulbs decorating it.
Enjoy with a tomato and onion salad, flat bread and a pot of freshly brewed black tea.
Find out more about Uzbek cuisine in Sophie and Max's guide: