Qatig Plov

QATIG QOVURMA PLOV (Yogurt Pilaf)is a unique pilaf in Azerbaijani cuisine (nowhere and never listed in any cooking book or website). It comes from the ancient Iravan Khanate and known only by descendants who live in Baku and pass authentic recipes from generation to generation. (In memory of Jeyran-khanum Mamedova.)

*A full-sized picture of this dish is available in the Gallery.

Ingredients for 4 servings:
for rice
2 cups long-grain (Basmati) rice (cup size 250 ml)
1 quart (1 liter) water + 1 tbsp salt for soaking rice
3 quarts (3 liter) water + 3 tbsp salt for cooking rice
8 oz (225 g) clarified unsalted butter
½ tsp saffron threads
1 lavash (tortilla) for qazmaq
for qatig qovurma
2 lb (900 gr) plain yogurt (qatig)
1½ lb (700 g) lean lamb or beef
1 large onion
2 tablespoons melted clarified butter
salt and pepper to taste (for meat)
½ tsp saffron threads

Preparation:
Preparing the meat.
Cut the meat into pieces, about 1″x1″ each. Place two tablespoons of clarified butter in a saucepan and cook the meat over medium-high heat until lightly brown on all sides.

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Peel the onion, cut it in half, and slice it into thin half-rings. Add onion to the meat and mix them together. Lower the heat, cover the pan with a lid, and let it simmer over medium-low heat. As soon as the meat begins releasing juice, season it with salt and pepper, and continue to simmer until the meat is cooked. If the meat juice evaporates before the meat is cooked, just add some hot water to prevent it from burning. Don’t forget to stir it occasionally.

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Preparing the yogurt.
Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth (you can use tea towel, or two sheets of strong paper towels) and set it over a large bowl. Pour the yogurt into the cloth, fold the ends of the cheesecloth over the yogurt, and let the whey (liquid) drain for about 6 hours (or overnight). The yogurt will become cottage cheese-like in consistency.

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Then, try to squeeze the cloth to make it as dry as possible and transfer the drained yogurt from the cloth into a saucepan. Add saffron threads and stir well.

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Cook over low heat while constantly stirring, until it begins to steam and bubble.

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Then, add cooked meat, stir, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Preparing the saffron infusion.
To prepare the infusion, take ½ teaspoon dried saffron threads and toss them into a shot glass. Then, add two tablespoons of boiling water and let it sit. The water will turn an opulent yellow color immediately, deepening over the next few minutes until it becomes a clear, bright orange.

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Preparing the rice.
1. Rinse the rice thoroughly in cold water several times until the water stays clear, to remove excess starch. Then, soak the rice overnight in salty water (or at least for 1 hour in very hot salty water) for a truly great, fluffy, and evenly cooked rice. Before cooking the rice, pour out the water straining the rice with a colander.
2. Fill a pot (or saucepan) with water, add salt, and bring it to a boil. Place the rice into the boiling water. Stir, lower the heat to medium, and let it cook for 5-10 minutes (depending on the quality of your rice). Cooked rice should be soft on the outside and hard inside (not raw.)
3. Strain the rice using a colander, rinse with a hot water, to wash out an extra salt.
4. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and place lavash (tortilla) on the butter. Place a layer of the rice (approximately a quarter of it) on top of the qazmaq and pour 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter on top. Then, follow up with another layer of rice and more butter. Repeat the procedure with all your rice. On the last layer, you can pour the saffron infusion on top along with more butter. Make some air holes in the surface with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow steam to escape.
5. Wrap the lid of the pot in a tea towel and cover the rice. Cook over a very low heat for about 45-60 minutes. Put a heat diffuser (or a pan) under your pot to prevent burning.

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The cooked rice will absorb all the butter itself and will become fluffy and soft to the taste with an attractive yellow-and-white color.
Serve Qatig Plov on a large plate and garnish with crispy Qazmaq.

Bon Appétit! Enjoy!

This post is also available in: Russian

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