Where does Plov come from?
Plov, pilaf, pilau – these are all different names for plov, each with slightly different recipe variations from different places. Today, plov is often considered an Uzbek dish, though it is thought to have its historical roots in Persian cuisine. The Soviet Union’s historical hold on eastern Europe and central Asia allowed plov to spread across all of the Soviet states. Thanks to the dish’s low cost, endless varieties, and pleasing spice mix, it became a staple in many homes, including across Ukraine.
An inexpensive delicacy
Ukrainian Plov is a great dish to serve a lot of people for not a lot of money. Rice, pork, and carrots are the primary ingredients, and you likely have all of the spices already in your cupboard.
Carrots can usually be purchased for around $1/lb, rice is rarely more than $1/lb and it expands substantially while cooking. One cup of dry rice yields 2 cups of cooked rice, meaning the 2 cups of dry rice in this recipe ends up as 4 cups of cooked rice. And, while I use pork loin for this recipe, you can use any kind of pork you want as long as you cut out the bones, meaning you can go as cheap as you want on the pork.
Another change you can make if you’re looking to save money: only use 1 pound of meat. The standard Ukrainian plov recipe calls for only 1 pound of meat. I used 2 pounds to increase the amount of protein per serving, but it is not necessary to do so.
Endless ways to make it your own
Another great thing about Ukrainian Plov is that there are a million ways to change the recipe. Don’t like pork? Try it with chicken or cubed beef. Some regional varieties would also use cubed lamb. When substituting meats, keep in mind how long the meat should take to cook. For pork, I recommend only browning one side of each cube to prevent it from overcooking during the simmering and steaming time. However for meats that generally cook for longer, like cubed beef or lamb, I would recommend browning 2-3 sides to ensure it cooks fully.
Are you looking to get more vegetables in your dinner? Carrots and onions may be a good start, and I would not recommend leaving either out. But there’s no harm in adding more vegetables, so try these recommendations:
Add with the water
Fry with the onions and carrots
Peas (1-2 cups)
Canned beans (drain first)
Cauliflower (chopped in small pieces)
Diced sweet potatoes
What to serve with Ukrainian Plov
Ukrainian Plov is arguably a one pot meal, combining meat, vegetables, and rice, but who doesn’t like a side dish?
I recommend serving this plov with a dip of some kind for added fresh flavor. I particularly enjoy yogurt or cottage cheese to eat with my plov, but my Smoked Eggplant Dip would be a great accompaniment. My Smoked Sauerkraut would also be a wonderful side dish!
How to make Ukrainian Plov
- 2 lbs Pork, cubed I used pork loin
- 2 cups Basmati rice
- 2 Carrots, shredded
- 1 Large onion, chopped into medium pieces
- 3 tbsp Minced garlic
- 2 tbsp Tomato paste
- 2 tbsp Seasoning mix
- 4 cups Water
- Canola oil for frying the pork and carrots
- Salt and pepper as desired
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Coriander
- 2 tsp Smoked paprika
- 1 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp Black pepper
- Sprinkle the cubed pork with salt and pepper.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add about ½ tbsp of canola oil and fry the pork cubes on one side until well browned. The pork should not be cooked through right now. Once browned on one side, remove to a plate.
- In a dutch oven or large pot, add more canola oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot and fry until the onions soften and start to turn color. Add the garlic and fry for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the pork and any juices on the plate into the dutch oven with the tomato paste, seasoning mix, and rice. Stir to combine and let cook for a minute.
- Add the water, stir to combine, and bring to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, stir the mixture one more time and reduce the heat to the lowest it can go. Cover the pot with a lid and do not remove it for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn off the heat, do not remove the lid! Let it sit for another 15 minutes.
- When the 15 minutes is over, open the pot, fluff the rice, and serve.