"Shah Plov" Azerbaijani King's Rice


Azerbaijani Shah Plov or "Crown Plov" is known as the king of dishes, as it is considered to be the most special dish in Azerbaijani cuisine. The addition of saffron, makes the Azerbaijani rice unique. But what makes the Azerbaijani rice even more unique is the fact that the rice and other ingredients such as (meat, dried fruits, chestnuts, etc.) are being prepared separately and not together in one stew. Certainly, this outstanding dish cannot be missed on the table during festive evenings, weddings, birthdays, etc.

There are more than 40 varieties of Azerbaijani rice, in this blog we will get acquianted with the recipe of the classic Shah Plov with dried fruits and meat (You can also try the veg(etari)an version, replacing meat by Tofu.

 

Recipe:

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serving: 4 to 6 persons


INGREDIENTS

  •  3 cups (600gr in total) of white basmati rice
  • 125gr butter for the rice, 100gr to fry the meat, onions and dried fruit (melted) * vegetable version for vegans.
  • 125gr peeled chestnuts * (You can buy "already fried" chestnuts at the Turkish supermarket, this product is called “kebap kestane”.-
  • 100gr dried apricots, pitted (you can also cut them into wedges if they are too big)
  • 100gr prunes, pitted
  • 50 g yellow raisins
  • 600 g veal, cut into cubes of 4-5cm or * tofu for vegans / vegetarians
  • 2 large onions, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and then thinly sliced ​​into half circles.
  •  1/3 teaspoon of saffron threads, dissolved in 3 tablespoons of hot water. Saffron powder can be used too.
  • 6-8 tortillas
  • Salt, black pepper 

1. Cut the meat into cubes of 4 cm. Fill a medium pan with 2 liters of water, 1 teaspoon of salt and cook the meat in the pan. After a few minutes of cooking, a foam layer will form, scoop it away and let it boil for about an hour, salt it to your taste in the last quarter. Turn off the heat, put the meat in a bowl and don' throw away the water in which the meat was cooked.

2. Take a medium frying pan, melt a knob of butter and fry the meat for a few minutes until it turns golden brown. Add the onions and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the apricots and plums and fry for 3-4 minutes and finally the raisins and fry for one minute. Then add 100ml of water from the pan in which the meat is cooked, close the lid and let it simmer for 10 minutes, this will make the meat even softer and all the flavors will mix together. The water should drain, the mix should be juicy but not too watery. 

3. Meanwhile: Place the rice in a sieve or colander and wash thoroughly under lukewarm water until the water runs clear (as clear as possible). The rinsing process removes the starch so that the rice grains remain separate after cooking and do not stick together. 

4. In a large non-stick pan, pour 10 cups of 200ml water and 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to boil, add the rice and cook for 10 minutes, stir from time to time with a wooden spoon, to prevent the rice grains from sticking together and to the bottom. Make sure the rice is not overcooked. The rice is ready when it comes up. Try a grain of rice to check if it is cooked - it should be “slightly” cooked - not completely cooked and not too soft (VERY IMPORTANT). Drain the rice in a large strainer or colander and set it aside

5.Meanwhile, we are going to prepare the saffron. Pour 3 tablespoons of boiling water in a small glass and add the saffron threads / saffron powder to the water and let it soak till the water colours dark orange.

6.Now that everything is ready, we move on to the last step, making tortilla-covered rice. Take a round oven bowl with a lid or a regular pan with a lid. Grease it with butter. Place 1 tortilla in the center on the bottom and then place the tortillas on the sides, grease each tortilla with butter to prevent it from sticking. Now we will start layering. Start with a layer of rice, sprinkle it with saffron water, then add a layer of meat with dried fruit. Repeat these steps a few times until the pan / bowl is almost full. Fold the ends of the tortilla to close it neatly, put the lid on and place it at 180c in the oven for 20-30 minutes. If you put it in a pan then lower the heat and let it cook for 25-30 minutes.

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