Plov! Palov! Pilav! Pilaw! Polo! A variety of names to describe this most wonderful of dishes, the undisputed king of the ‘rice and meat’ menu and filling the heart of many a Central Asian warrior with the energy in which to repel another invasion or to trade the vast distances from their homelands.
Plov is simply a magical dish, something that should be savoured with plenty of hot tea and followed by plenty of melons. But what exactly is Plov as outside Asia it is almost unheard of.
Well to put it simply it is chunky pieces of fatty meat garnished with rice, carrots, onions and cumin sprinkled with a little salt, pepper and a few bay leaves for flavour. That’s it. Those simple ingredients have razed cities to the ground, allowed for the export of silk and have kept Central Asia a far saner place than it actually is. There is probably no other single food that has been more instrumental to the development of human history until the discovery of the chilli by the Old World in the 15th Century.
Four years after tasting my last dish of plov in the cold wastelands of Urumqi, I finally bit the bullet and took my first attempt at this sacred dish. May I add that I am now the Master of Plov!