Wednesday, June 20, 2012

# 3 Turkmen pilaf - Plov

turkmen pilaf recipe - plov

The first two recipes I made, Mosterdsoep and the Tortilla Española, were relatively easy for me because I have lived in both countries of origin. Therefore I decided to challenge myself this time and pick a recipe from a country with a cuisine of which I knew absolutely nothing: Turkmenistan! 

Turkmenistan is a country in central Asia and used to be part of the Soviet Union. Some research on the Internet told me that Turkmen food is based on traditional dishes from their former nomadic
lifestyle. Since traveling around doesn't leave time for cultivating crops, they don't eat a lot of vegetables but they do eat a lot of meat dairy and bread. Turkmen love bread even more then us dutch people. There are all kinds of superstition related to turkmen bread and bread making. Culturally bread has a symbolic value and it is perceived as very impolite to turn it upside down or mistreat it.

mistreating bread
This would not be ok in Turkmenistan
The national dish is plov, a Turkmen version of pilaf. There wasn't a lot of variety between different plov recipes I found. All of them used some kind of meat or chicken, a ridiculous amount of oil, onions, carrots, rice and some of them also garlic. For my recipe I combined two recipes from turkmen kitchen and  asia recipe. I chose to use chicken and went for organic chicken breast, it turned out to be a bad idea because it became quite dry, next time I would prefer drumsticks or lamb/beef. The basmati rice worked really well, as did the garlic. For a traditional Turkmen plov you should use cottonseed oil, but since that is unavailable over here I just went for sunflower oil. Don't use olive oil that will overrule the taste.

rice for plov

serves 2

250 gr / 0.5 lb meat [chicken(drumsticks)/lamb/beef]
150 gr / 2 medium carrots
1 medium onion
1/2 cup vegetable or sunflower oil [traditionally this is cottonseed oil]
5 cloves of garlic
1.5 cup / 375 ml water
2 cups / 250 gr basmati rice
1 1/4 teaspoon salt

cut carrots for plov

Cut the meat into bite-size peaces (leave this out if you use chicken drumsticks)

Peel and cut the carrots in a match like shape (3 inch - 1/8 inch or 7cm - 30 mm). [this step might take a while]
plov onion rings

cut the onion into thin half rings

Heat the oil on a medium heat.
[Yes the amount is ridiculous but this is what you'll need!]

 fry chicken and garlic

Add the chicken and garlic. Turkmen sometimes put garlic in with skin and all [take them out before you serve].
fry chicken onion garlic for plov recipe

Once the meat is golden brown, add the onion.

fry chicken onion garlic carrots for turkmen plov

Add the carrots and fry until they are soft.

Add water and salt and let it cook for 5 minutes.
turkmen recipe add rice to plov

Now add your rice on top.
[leave it on top, don't mix it untill the end]
cover your pan

Cover your pan and boil for 30 - 45 minutes until the rice is done and the moist has been absorbed.

Turkmen pilaf - plov

Serve your plov, I garnished with some green onion.

Plov is delicious yet heavy so it is nice to serve a green salad next to it!

Isdäniz acyk bolsun!

ps. If reading this gave you an appetite for more turkmen food, check this amazing blog for recipes!
for more information on the turkmen cuisine you can click here and here.


  1. Your pilaf looks great, Ellen! Thanks for giving it a try :)

  2. Wow, Ellen, you are really brave girl! There is still the biggest war in post-Soviet culinair blogosphere - who makes the best Plov. :) The dish has been adopted almost by every family in ex USSR, but everyone has his own version. In Uzbekistan people say: If you gonna die, let it be from eating too much Plov.)) Thanks a lot, I'll try your recipe!

    1. :-) I had no idea about the culinairy war on the post-Soviet blogosphere! I saw a lot of Uzebeki recipes, they seem to be a little bit different from the Turkmen ones.. I hope I did the dish justice..

  3. Ellen, I want to say thank you for sharing the most popular dish in my county, I truly appreciate it!I agree with you and our culture very interesting and unique! As you said the bread is very important for turkmens! And like our bread you cannot find in other places.How I really miss the turkmen bread now! About the recipe I like it but I cook it in a little different way like putting onion after putting rice or cooking with potato or raisins, but i like your way too!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I'm just about to try this dish made by my Turkmen flatmate! Smells so good, can't wait to taste it :))
    And while it's beeing cooked I'm looking for the recipe :))


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