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How to cook Central Asian plov (recipe from Tajikistan)

If you have been around Central Asia, you will already know that the most famous and eaten dish in the area is, by far, plov. Many people claim it to be Uzbek, while others say it’s simply Central Asian, but everybody agrees that in every country, city and even family it’s cooked in a different and personal way.

In the last four months traveling in this region, we ate plov countless times. And, many other times being hosted by locals they proposed to cook it all together and even though we were really interested in the preparation, we never had the opportunity to do it, because when we were arriving at their houses everything was ready due to the really long time needed for cooking it. So, we were usually ending up just complimenting the chef once we finished licking our fingers. And yes, fingers! Since the traditional way to eat it is with your bare hands.

Everything ready to start cooking!


A few days ago, while being in the capital of Tajikistan, finally, we had the pleasure to learn how to cook it and we understood how long the preparation is. Between going to the market to buy the ingredients and cooking it all, it took us a full evening!

Even if, as we said, you will find it cooked in so many different ways, here we bring you the ingredients and recipe of the Tajik Plov, the variation of Dushanbe, learnt at Yeti Hostel.

We cooked for 15 people, so you will see that the quantities are huge but in case you want to cook for a smaller group, just use a proportional quantity.



  • 3 kg of rice (preferably the ‘Tashkent Laser’ kind)
  • 3 kg of meat (beef or lamb)
  • 3 kg of carrot
  • 1,5 kg of onions
  • 900 gr of vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of cumin
  • 3 heads of garlic
  • 2 cups of wet chickpeas (you can buy them already like this or just put it in the water the night before)
  • 2 cups of dried barberries
  • 15 quail eggs



1. Clean the rice to remove the stones and worms in it (of course only if you buy the unpacked one at the market). Once this is done, in order to make it softer, put it all in warm water while you cook the other ingredients. Leave it in the water for a maximum of 2 hours.

2. Put the oil in the frying pan, wait until it warms up and only in case that you want to cook a big quantity of plov, start cooking the meat until it gets a reddish color.

3. Once reached the appropriate cooking point, remove the meat and put the onion in the same oil. When it’s sauteed, add the carrots and all the meat back in the frying pan. If, like in this case, you have a big quantity it is better to add the carrots little by little, so they get cooked better.

4. While it’s being cooked, keep on stirring it and when it’s done, add boiling water until all the ingredients are totally covered by it.
5. Add the chickpeas, barberries, only half of the cumin and the all the heads of garlic, without being peeled.

6. Meanwhile the water starts to boil, prepare the side salad, boil the eggs that you will add in the end and wash the rice three times to remove all the dust and the soil it still has.

7. Once the water is boiling, add all the rice, stir it and leave it in the fire until all the water evaporates.


8. Stir the rice and compact it all. Make a hole in the middle of the rice, and cover the frying pan with a lid. Then do not touch it again and leave it resting in the fire around half an hour more.

9. Once it is done, take out the meat, cut it into small pieces and put it on the top of the rice. Cut also the eggs in half and add them all around.

And congrats, you just cooked plov!

Now you the only thing left will be serving it and enjoying it. Usually, it is accompanied by non (bread) and a basic salad that has tomatoes, cucumber, onion and herbs.

Hope you try and succeed cooking this well-known Central Asian dish. If you do, let us know how it turned out!

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