Recipes for peace: Plov (TAJIKISTAN)

As part of our Recipes for peace series, each week we feature an inspiring dish to celebrate the varied - and tasty - ways in which food can play a role in building peace.

This week’s recipe comes from our Senior Programme Officer Gulru Nabieva, who works in our Eurasia team.

Plov is a beloved meal among many communities living in Central Asia and is considered a national dish in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Plov is delicious, but it is the notions of peace and positivity which are ingrained in it that make it such a fascinating dish. Growing up in a society with strong community values, I witnessed how plov was used to reconcile relatives, neighbours and mahallas (an urban division between communities). If there is an exchange of plov between relatives or neighbours, it means ‘I want peace with you’. If two or more mahallas prepare plov together, it means ‘we want to live in peace with you’. No words are required. Simply the act of sharing it provides a feeling of security and breaks communication barriers.

The exchange of plov takes place a day before Eid - a Muslim holiday which officially marks the end of Ramadan (fasting) - to celebrate and encourage peace with one another.

Ingredients for 5-6 people

  • 1kg of meat (lamb or beef)
  • 1kg of rice (basmati)
  • 7-8 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 garlic
  • Salt
  • 100 ml of vegetable oil

Cooking instructions

  • Cut meat into small pieces.
  • Peel and cut onions in half, thinly slicing crosswise.
  • Peel and cut carrots into juliennes (long thin strips).
  • Prepare workplace and put vegetable oil into a large pan.
  • Add meat and fry until it turns golden brown, then do the same for the onions.
  • Add carrots and simmer for 5-7 mins (do not cover the lid).
  • Add cumin and salt.
  • Add water so the meat and carrots are submerged.
  • Cover and simmer for 35-40 mins on medium heat.
  • Wash rice 2-3 times in a cold water.
  • Then add it to the pan, smoothing it over the meat.
  • Carefully pour hot water so the rice is submerged by 2cm, then add salt.
  • Cook until rice has absorbed the water.
  • Put whole garlic in the middle of the pan and press into the rice.
  • To steam, make holes in the rice using a wooden stick.
  • Cover and leave it for 20 mins in a minimum heat.

Gulru works in our Eurasia programme, who are also running a ‘Recipes for Peace’ project that aims to bring together divided Armenian and Turkish communities through celebrating their shared culinary traditions.

Follow Gulru on twitter: @gulrunabieva.

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Photo: Lola Mansurov