This week I got Kyrgyzstan, I didn’t even know how to say it, great start!
Here’s some information about Kyrgyzstan: Located in Central Asia, it is a mountainous country that borders China on its northwestern side, its capital is Bishkek and spoken languages are Russian and Kyrgyz.
So I looked it up a read up about it on Wikipedia and then searched up Kyrgyzstan cuisine and was thoroughly intrigued by its national dish, Beshbarkmak, (in Kyrgyz Beshbarmak means “Five Fingers” for it is eaten only with your hands). A traditional meal often eaten as part of a feast at a celebration. It is made from horse meat, boiled in its own broth for several hours and served with homemade noodles and chopped parsley and coriander.
It can also be made with mutton or beef and if you make it with mutton, it is traditional to place a boiled sheep’s head on the table in front of the most honoured guest, who then gets to cut the head in to pieces and hand them round the table. Yikes! We won’t be doing that!
When I read this I knew I wouldn’t be making the national dish or any dish involving horse for that matter. For one I couldn’t get it at any of my local shops actually probably couldn’t get it in the whole country!
So I turned my attention to some of the other popular dishes, a lot of skewered meats and dumplings and noodles. First of all I was looking for a dish i could buy all the ingredients for, so it limited my options, in the end I chose Paloo, the Kyrgyz version of Pilaf or Pulao. Basically a rice dish cooked with spices and meat and vegetables. In Kyrgyzstan they add a lot of sliced carrots to the dish and only a few spices. The most interesting addition for me, was a whole unpeeled head of garlic buried in the dish while it was cooking, I didn’t have that much garlic so i went for just a couple of cloves. maybe i should have put it all in cos’ the dish was a bit boring.
The recipe sourced from http://www.kyrgyzchildrensfuture.org/kyrgyz-culture/kyrgyz-recipes/plov-2/
Paloo/Plov – Krygz Pilaf with lamb & carrot
Ingredients ( 6-8 servings)
800g meat – lamb, or beef cut into medium pieces
1 big onion, finely chopped
3-4 big carrots, julienne cut
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic
2 cups uncooked rice (Basmati)
3.5 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp ground cumin
pinch of saffron
- Heat oil in a heavy bottomed, large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, reduce heat to medium and cook slowly until translucent, stirring occasionally.
- Increase heat to high heat. Carefully toss in all of the meat and cook, stirring, until all sides of the meat become pleasantly brown and stop sticking to the bottom.
- Add carrots and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Then you can add chopped tomatoes and cook few minutes more.
- Pour in the water and let it boil for 5 min. Then add salt, cumin, saffron. The sauce should be salty with the expectation that the rice will absorb it.
- Pour the rice evenly over the meat, don’t mix. Water should cover the rice but not more than 1/2 inch. Let the water evaporate a little bit and then flatten the surface with a large slotted spoon.
- Place an unpeeled head of garlic in the middle of rice. Immediately cover the pot tightly and reduce the heat to low heat and steam the rice for 22 min.
- When the rice is tender turn the heat off but let it stand for 3-5 additional minutes, sprinkle with chopped parsley if wanted.