SHAKH PLOV (CROWN PILAF)
Pilaf is the signature dish of Azerbaijani cuisine. It served on special occasions and known in Azerbaijan as Ash or Plov. Azerbaijani cuisine has dozens of different types of pilaf, one of which is “Shakh Plov” (Crown Pilaf) – the King of Azerbaijani pilafs. The creator of “Shakh Plov” is a well-known Azerbaijani chef, winner of the culinary competitions, Shahguseyn Kerimov.
Shakh Plov is usually served on special occasions, and accompanied by a different qovurma (garnishes). Qovurma can be made of meat, chicken, fish, or sweet dried fruits and nuts, to compliment the rice. The recipe below is Shakh Plov with sweet fruits and nuts.
*A full-sized picture of this dish is available in the Gallery.
Ingredients for 4 portions:
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
5-6 medium size round flour tortillas (or thick lavash)
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup walnuts (or cooked chestnuts)
Preparing the saffron infusion.
Place saffron threads into a shot glass. Then, pour about 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.
Preparing the dried fruits and nuts.
In a frying pan, melt two tablespoons of butter, add two tablespoons of water, add the dried apricots (cut them in half if they are too large), raisins, and nuts. Simmer the fruit over low heat for a few minutes until they are plump. Stir constantly to prevent them from burning.
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 at room temperature (or at least 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, and rinse with a hot water to wash out an extra salt.
4. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and grease the pan thoroughly. Spread butter evenly on bottom and sides of the pan using fingers. Grease each lavash with melted butter. Place one round tick lavash (flour tortilla) on the bottom of the pan. Arrange remaining lavash (tortillas) around the sides of the pan, overlapping each other. Do not leave any open spaces, the bottom and sides of your pan must be fully covered with lavash.
5. Place a layer of the rice (approximately quarter) and pour 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter on this layer. Then, place another layer of rice on top and follow up with more butter. Repeat the procedure with all your rice. On the last layer, pour your saffron infusion along with more butter.
6. Cover the rice with lavash (tortilla) and grease it with melted butter.
7. Put the pilaf in the pre-heated to 350F (180C) oven for about an hour. Cook until lavash is golden-brown. Then, remove the pilaf from the oven and leave it for about five minutes to rest.
8. Turn the pan upside down on a serving plate. Remove the pan from the pilaf. Cut the crust into portions, and serve Shakh Plov with sweet fruit and nuts, or with any qovurma of your choice.
Bon Appétit! Enjoy!
This post is also available in: Russian