Saturday, October 2, 2010

Learning to Cook Plov

Some Saturday in September, 2010

My Kazakh friend R. offered to cook for me, and so one Saturday we had a nice long, relaxing day. First, we went to Mega, the mall near my home, with the kids. We instantly got side-tracked by a music-etc. store. I wanted to see how much a Wii cost here, since I had gone to the trouble of bringing a Wii from the US. I forget how much, but around $400. My parents later assured me that they had spent far less on my Wii! So perhaps worth it to bring it from the States?

(Side note--the American Wii power supply does NOT work in Kazakhstan, even with a converter. We had to wait over a month for my dad to order and then ship me a power supply that will work here. Now our Wii works great.)

Then we looked at CDs, and soon we were browsing the traditional Kazakh music section, where CDs are rather cheap (between 400 and 1000 Tenge---$2.70 and $6.70). Rabiga helped me pick out 3 CDs and then got some for herself, plus a karaoke DVD of Russian children's songs.

Finally, we made it to Ramstore, where we shopped for vegetables etc. R. was surprised to learn that I cook so rarely that I don't have onions at home, we had to buy some. Then I surprised her when I said I needed to buy flour, so I cook cook desert. She pointed to a tiny pack of flour, but I said I needed much more flour that that! Really? She rarely uses flour.

We walked home and the kids put on a DVD in Russian (Disney's "Atlantis") while we cooked. Okay, I watched and R. cooked.

Plov is a traditional Uzbek dish. And VERY easy to cook.

The main ingredients are rice, meat, and vegetables.

R. first soaked the rice in water to soften it and then we set about to cutting up the vegetables. She took out a huge, orange-ish vegetable, which I assumed was a yam. I told her what it was and surprised her. It was a carrot. I have never seen a carrot so huge before.

In a large pot, we heated some oil, then we poured in the vegetables, the already-cut-up beef, and some salt. We let it cook for about 20 - 30 minutes and then we poured in the rice and some water. R. added more salt, tasting the water to see if it was okay. We let it simmer for another 20 minutes and then we had plov.

Really simple and kind of fool-proof, since we had the pot on the wrong burner for quite some time, and so we really didn't heat up the oil as we were supposed to. It tasted really good, although of course Sophia didn't like it and R.'s daughter only picked at hers. And it refrigerates well, so I had dinner pre-made for the next couple nights.

And it's something that you can mix up and change to your taste--change the kind of meat, change the vegetables, add different spices.


Then, I made chocolate muffins, from a recipe I found on the Internet. Whereas R. made hers from memory, not even using measuring cups, I followed the recipes correctly, measuring everything precisely. R.'s daugher had never seen an electric mixer before and was enamored by its use.

The muffins turned out delicious, warm and moist. We listened to the Russian's children DVD and R. and her daughter sang some Russian songs. (I tried.)

In the end, we spent about 8 hours together, shopping, cooking, eating (and drinking a little Georgian wine).

A good evening which gave me enough courage to consider maybe making plov again, maybe learning a new recipe!

No comments:

Post a Comment