Uzbek Beef Plov – fluffy rice pilaf with beef, carrots, onions and a unique spice blend – is originally an Uzbek dish that pretty much every Russian family knows and cooks. Traditionally, it is cooked outdoors in a large cast-iron pot over a fire. This recipe makes a large batch which lends itself perfectly for reheating or freezing.
About this Uzbek Plov
Although I grew up in Germany, my parents actually grew up in Russia (I was born there also). Therefore, many of my mom’s dishes could be categorized as Russian cuisine, like this rice dish called Plov.
Plov a is a traditional Uzbek rice filled with beef, carrots, onions, paprika, cumin, and garlic. However, even though it has its origins in Uzbek cuisine, nearly every Russian family knows and cooks it. Traditionally, it is cooked outdoors in a large cast-iron pot (wok) over a fire. This dish has gained popularity across Russia for a reason. It is delicious.
How to Make Uzbek Beef Plov
This Uzbek beef plov recipe is very easy to make, even if you don’t happen to have a large cast-iron to cook outside on. This version is cooked on top of the stove using either a nonstick pot or a Dutch oven.
This plov recipe starts with the beef which should be a fairly inexpensive cut like stewing beef. Since you will cut the beef into small bite-sized chunks and cook it for quite a bit of time, it will become tender. I recommend trimming any excess fat and sinew from the stewing beef before cutting into smaller pieces as this will ensure tender beef as well.
Next, you will want to heat your Dutch oven on the stove with your choice of oil before browning the beef. I like to use avocado oil or olive oil, as they are healthier oils and have a fruity taste. Next, you add the onions and carrots by first cooking the onion until it softens and becomes translucent. This should take a total time of 5 minutes. Afterward, you stir in the carrots, some of the salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and bay leaves, and cook until the carrots start to soften. It’s worth taking the time to cut the carrots into matchsticks (instead of shredding them). This way, they will maintain a better texture rather than dissolving into the rice as they cook.
Next, you add 1 3/4 cups of the water, cover the Dutch oven, and gently simmer the beef until it is very tender, about a total time of 45 minutes. You should simmer the mixture over medium-low heat. No one likes hard, chewy pieces of meat in an otherwise fluffy rice dish, so this method is ideal as it makes cheaper cuts of beef tender and delicious.
Rinsing the Rice
While the beef mixture is simmering, you can prepare your rice for the next step. This involves rinsing the long grain rice to remove all of the starches from it. You can use something like basmati rice as well. The benefit of doing this is to ensure the rice granules stay separate rather than clumping together. To rinse the white rice, simply place the grains in a colander with fine holes, like a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse, while stirring the long grain white rice around with your hands, until the water runs clear.
Cooking the Pilaf
Once your rice is rinsed, you sprinkle it over the beef mixture in an even layer along with salt but do not stir. Next, you add the remaining water and bring the mixture to a boil, and once boiling, you reduce the heat and let it simmer uncovered until the rice has absorbed the water. This should take a total time of 10 minutes.
When most of the water has evaporated, you can add a whole head of garlic to the pot. You will want to trim the base of the whole garlic head to expose the cloves so that the garlic flavour will infuse into the rice. You can place the head of garlic into the rice with the open side facing down into the rice and sprinkle with some ground coriander. Next, cover, and continue cooking until the rice is tender.
Finishing the Rice
Once the rice has completed cooking, you can remove the garlic head and bay leaves, and fluff up the rice mixture with a fork. While you will want to discard the bay leaves, you can always eat the rice with cloves of the garlic.
How to Make Instant Pot Plov
If you would like to save some time, I also have two versions of Instant Pot plov: Instant Pot Beef Plov and Instant Pot Chicken and Rice. The total cooking time for the chicken version is only about 30 minutes whereas the beef version takes about 46 minutes or so along with your prep time. Meanwhile, this stovetop version takes approximately 2 hours from start to finish.
The results of the Instant Pot versions will be very similar to the stovetop version while allowing you to conveniently cut down the time it takes to prepare the dish through the use of a pressure cooker.
How to Reheat Leftovers
While this Uzbek beef plov is the perfect amount to serve a family, you may find you have leftovers of this comfort food if you only have a one or two-person household. Luckily, it is very easy to reheat, and in some ways is even more delicious than when it is first made. In fact, my favorite way of eating plov has always been on the second day when it is slightly crispy from reheating (in a pan – not the microwave!).
To reheat the rice in a pan, add your choice of oil and heat it up. Then, you can add whatever portion of rice you need to serve you and your family, and cook it, stirring once in a while, until warmed through. This method is quite similar to making Asian-style fried rice on the stove.
Freezing the Uzbek Beef Plov
If desired, you can also freeze leftovers for a later meal. To do so, you can place the leftovers in a freezer bag before placing them in the freezer. Once frozen, they should be safe for quite some time, but I recommend consuming them within 3 months. After a while in the freezer, the flavours may start to deteriorate and the texture may become less appealing otherwise.
When ready to enjoy the rice, you can remove it from the freezer to thaw before warming up in a skillet. Future you will thank you!
Serving the Beef Plov
Traditionally, Russians serve this Uzbek beef plov with a tomato salad called shakarob. This is a delicious mixture of sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes, onion, dill, unrefined sunflower oil, salt and pepper, which offers a refreshing contrast to this hearty rice dish. If you don’t love dill, you can substitute it with another fresh herb like parsley, cilantro, or basil as well.
As a kid, I always had to drizzle some ketchup over top of my plov, but nowadays, a few baby dill pickles on the side make the best condiment for this comfort food dish. 🙂 Other fermented or pickled vegetables would work well too. Try it out and see what your favorite condiment is! Enjoy!
Uzbek Beef Plov – Rice Pilaf
Uzbek Beef Plov - a fluffy rice pilaf with beef, carrots, onions and a unique spice blend - is originally an Uzbek dish that pretty much every Russian family knows and cooks. Traditionally it is cooked outdoors in a large cast iron pot over a fire. This recipe make a large batch which lends itself perfectly for reheating or freezing.
- 1 1/2 pounds stewing beef or any inexpensive beef cut
- 1/3 cup cooking oil I like olive or avocado
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 3 medium carrots cut into matchsticks
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 5 3/4 cups hot water divided
- 3 cups long grain rice parboiled rice makes for great texture results
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
Trim any excess fat off the beef and cut into bite-sized pieces. Heat a large non-stick pot or dutch oven over high heat. Add the cooking oil. Once oil is hot add the beef and sear uncovered for about 7 minutes until meat is nicely browned. Stir often.
Turn heat to medium and add chopped onion. Cook for about 5 minutes until onions soften.
Stir in carrot matchsticks (you could shred the carrots but the matchstick size leaves more bite and texture), 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin and bay leaves and cook for another 5 minutes until carrots soften.
Add 1 3/4 cups of boiling water, cover and simmer over medium low heat for 45 minutes until the meat is soft.
In the meantime using a strainer rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear (this is essential for fluffy rice otherwise you risk ending up with sticky rice mush). Spread the rice over the meat, sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp salt and add 4 cups of boiling water (do NOT stir!). Bring to a boil over high heat.
Once boiling reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered until most of the water is absorbed (10 minutes).
Cut the bottom off the garlic head to expose the cloves. Press garlic head into the center of the rice. Sprinkle the rice with 1 tsp coriander. Poke 8-10 holes into the rice to let the steam to escape and cover. Turn heat to low and cook until rice is soft.
Remove garlic and bay leaves, stir gently to combine everything. Serve (with dill pickles) and enjoy!
Recipe from NatashasKitchen. Natasha’s recipes have helped me tremendously with cooking Russian meals that my mom never uses a recipe for.
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