Plov is cognate with pilaf and comes from the same Near Eastern source as that rice dish. The national dish of Uzbekistan, plov spread in modified forms all over the Soviet Union just as couscous is a favorite dish in France and enchiladas in the United States while not belonging to the mainstream culinary traditions. In Russia, chicken is very popular, but you can imagine that, given the Near Eastern and religious roots, lamb is the meat used in Uzbekistan.

It’s possible to make this a vegetarian/vegan dish. See below.

I learned this dish from a young lady who has twice spent several months at our home. Here I try to make it without a spice preparation from Russia in order to avoid depending on supplies ordered from on-line shops. In a cook-off, I liked my spicing scheme better than the Russian grocery-store spice packet.

In Uzbekistan, this dish is often served by proud men, the counterparts of Americans grilling in their back yard, with a baked head of garlic per serving. At wedding feasts, it is also served with saffron. Barberries are part of the traditional recipe, but I have replaced them here with cranberries as an option.


6-12 people depending on appetite.


  2-3 lbs chicken, cut into bite-sized morsels
  4 cups rice
  6 cups water or chicken or vegetable stock
  2 carrots, grated
  1 medium onion, cut in thin slices
  Curry (spice mixture)
  black pepper
  red pepper
  powdered garlic
  curry powder
  1 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
  5 scallions, pre-caramelized
  1 cup cashews


1. Brown the chicken in a bit of oil in a hot pan (wok, dutch oven) until no pink remains. Add first curry to the chicken to coat. Meanwhile, grate the carrots and hold in a bowl.

Here is one packaged spicing scheme for the chicken. The "pepesh" are pepper, but I'm not yet certain which is which (black, red, etc.).
tchernoi pepesh
strytchkovy pepesh
beli pepesh

2. Grind the salt, herbs and spices into fine powder and reserve. In the end, they will weigh in anywhere from 20 to 30 grams.

3. Add in the onions and reduce the heat. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the carrot and cook until they began to soften, maybe 10 minutes. Scrap the bottom of the pan continually so that nothing sticks and burns.

4. Add spices, rice and the water. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover well. In 20 minutes, add the berries and cashews if desired.

Vegetarian Plov

As the only ingredient in the recipe above that prohibits vegetarians and vegans is the chicken, it can be easily eliminated in favor of another substantial ingredient such as cauliflower, broccoli or cabbage. Cook the rice per the instructions without chicken; prepare the substantial ingredient either in place of the chicken or cooked alongside and then added near the end depending upon how cooked you want it.

Our local Govindas Restaurant (circa 1984-1990) often made dishes like this using a substantial vegetable in place of meat.