Thursday, 25 October 2007

The creation of plov!

Ghengis was a little hungry. A day of pillaging the oases of the Taklamakan and he realised that his tummy was rumbling. He also had an army of men to feed. Something had to be done. Hungry men would not be able to fight. Instead they would be thinking of the warm bosom of home; of their wives and of their wives' cooking skills. Ghengis realised that to garner his men for the next battle that they would have to be fed.

Ghengis managed to find a survivor amongst the rubble. At swordpoint he ordered him to make a feast fit for an army. The man debated. Either it was death by the army for not cooking or death from his wife for not cleaning the house. He decided to opt for the latter. After all, there was always the opportunity of make-up sex.

So our guy, let's call him 'Chuckles', asked Ghengis for a saucepan to put over his fire. After all, how could he cook if all his pans were lost in the pillaging. Ghengis promptly turned round his shield and presented him with a cooking facility. Impressed by the ingenuity of the Mongol horde he got to work. Chuckles said he needed meat and one of the archers shot a wandering sheep. Skinned, he chucked in the fat. By now, Chuckles was in trouble. The pillaging had left the town bare of any food. He stumbled on an onion patch and tossed one of them in the shield. The smell would at least distract the horde and allow him some time to think of what to cook.

He scoured the ground but all he could find was a few carrots left untouched by the pillaging. But as Chuckles turned to his shield, the onion in the pan had already burned. Panicking he lopped the onion out. Ghengis was displeased that he had burned the onion, but Chuckles managed to convince him that it was all for flavour.

Wanting to wield his sword, Ghengis hacked the slaughtered sheep into pieces. Realising that it would be his limbs next, Chuckles put the sheep into the shield. The fat and juices from the meat created an intoxicating smell and soon, everyone was looking forward to the dish on the stove.

All except Chuckles. What next? Well, with nothing else left, he threw in the onions and carrots, gently chopped. Soon enough they were frying away with the meat. But Chuckles knew he needed something more. Then he realised his underground supply of rice. Chuckles loved rice and had kept some in his cellar on the invasion. One of the soldiers checked it out and lo and behold, rice was a plenty. Gently washing the rice, he realised the carrots and meat were ready, but something was missing.

He appealed to the Great Kahn. He needed some spice, just a little to flavour the dish. Ghengis thought for a moment, and out of his back pocket got out some cumin. There was nothing fancy, but Ghengis enjoyed chewing on them to keep his brain in check. Mutton and cumin was a strange combination, but at the salivating mouth of the army, Chuckles threw it into the shield along with a bit of salt and a couple of bay leaves that were lying around the place. Then came the tricky bit. Chuckles got the washed rice and added it to the pan. All the water began to evaporate as the rice sucked up the moisture. Was it true, was this meal ok?

Chuckles covered the shield and prayed for a miracle. He really did not fancy being on the receiving end of a sword thrust. But what good was a couple of carrots and some cumin mixed in with mutton and rice? Where was the spice?

Ghengis, impatient, ripped the lid off the pan. He held his sword to Chuckles. Our cook had no option, but to serve the Great Kahn. Ghengis sniffed at the food. But there was no time for this. He took a mouthful. And then he stopped chewing. His army looked at him. The Great Kahn looked back. All was silent on the field.

Suddenly Ghengis let out a great laugh. All the army laughed and cheered. Chuckles thanked his lucky stars. And in the process, came up with the dish we know today as:

PLOV

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(You see. Archaeologists have imagination too)

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