Kazakh Beef Plov (Pilaf)
This Kazakh Beef Plov is a hearty dish made of meat, rice, onion, carrots and spices. It’s one of those meals that we regularly make at our house and it doesn’t become old.
Plov (English Pilaf) is one of those iconic central Asian dishes that is also a big part of the Russian cuisine nowadays. It is not very clear where the dish was first created, but most agree that it was somewhere in central Asia, India, or Persia and then it spread from there.
How to Make Plov
This recipe for Kazakh Beef Plov comes from my mom and I can honestly say I haven’t tasted better, except for those versions of Plov that are cooked on an open fire (there is something about that smoky flavor…). I’m not sure what to call this dish, (Russian Plov? Beef Plov? Pilaf?) but since we come from Kazakhstan and that is where I ate this dish first, this is going to be Kazakh Plov. I hope you like it as much as we do.
This recipe requires a Kazan, or a dutch oven for cooking. A Kazan is like a cast iron wok pan or a dutch oven. It is used a lot in central Asian cooking. The one I have, I got from an auntie for my wedding and that has been one of the best gifts ever. Mine has a flat bottom so it can stand on its own. Many have rounded bottoms and are specifically made for cooking outside over a fire. If you don’t have one, use a heavy-bottomed dutch oven.
Preparing the Ingredients for Beef Plov
Lamb and beef are most traditional meats to use for Plov, though people also use chicken. In our house we make Plov only with beef 😁. Cut the meat into rectangles (my preferred method) or into squares, if you like. These are about an inch long.
The best rice for this dish is long-grain rice. I’ve also used Basmati when I didn’t have the long-grain rice on hand and it works out fine. I would avoid using short-grain rice in this dish as it can become mushy.
Measure out the rice and wash it.
Peel the carrots. I leave the ends on at first to save time when peeling. They get cut off when I julienne the carrots with a knife (next step).
Using a knife, julienne the carrots into thin strips. These are about 1 1/2 – 2 inches long. You can also use a mandolin slicer for this, if you like. I’ve heard of people using a boxed grater to shred the carrots, but this is not something I would recommend. The carrots would be too mushy once cooked and that is not the type of Plov we are cooking here.
Here is the end result for all the cut carrots. It’s almost like a work of art – trying to get them all perfectly the same in size 🤗.
Peel and cut the onions. First into halves and then into thirds or fourths and then thinly slice them.
Herbs and Spices
Separate the garlic cloves, but don’t peel them as they get cooked whole in this dish. Then, measure out cumin (make sure these are whole seed and not ground), curry (if using), and turmeric (if using).
Preparing Kazakh Beef Plov
Using your Kazan or a heavy-bottomed dutch oven, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the cut meat to the oil, and fry until no longer red. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer for about an hour or until the water given off by the meat is cooked out. You will see the meat start to brown. Brown it to your desired consistency, but don’t let it burn. The darker the meat, the darker will the Plov be at the end.
Preheat the oven to 340° F (171° C). If you want to cook your Plov using the stove top, skip this step and proceed with the rest.
Add the chopped onions to the meat and fry, stirring once in a while, until they are soft and translucent.
As the onions are frying with the meat, heat a separate skillet on the stove, add a tablespoon of oil to it and sauté the carrots. Sauté until they are somewhat soft but not fully cooked. The carrots are added at the end on the top of everything else and they are basically steam-cooked in the dish.
In the meantime, once the onions are soft, add the spices and garlic and mix well. Then add the rice and mix everything together. Add the water and bring it to a boil.
Once the water is boiling, give everything a good stir, even out the rice and then add the carrots on the top of everything (they should be done at this point). Cover the pot with a lid and put it in the oven (if using this method).
If cooking the dish on the stove, reduce the heat to low and proceed to cook 40-45 minutes.
Serving Beef Plov
Let the cooked Plov rest for about 15 minutes before opening the pot. Use a big serving spoon and mix everything together.
This dish tastes awesome with pickled tomatoes (another Russian specialty), and my Korean Spiced Carrot Salad. Seriously, if you make this dish, make the salad the day before (it needs to stay in the fridge overnight).
Note. The dish can be partially prepared ahead of time. Fry the meat the day before. Then, let it cool and refrigerate. Cut the carrots and onions and refrigerate them as well. Prep the rest of the ingredients. Then, on the day of cooking, you just need to saute the carrots and heat up the meat and complete cooking the dish. I do this a lot on the weekends where I prep everything on Saturday and finish everything on Sunday after church.
I hope this not only helps you learn how to make plov, but also encourages you to actually try it out.
Lastly, if you make this Kazakh Beef Plov, make sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating here! I’d love to hear back from you and will do my best to answer and respond to every comment. And of course, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram if you make this recipe. I’d love to see the photos of the recipes you have made!
Kazakh Beef Plov
- ½ cup (109g) Corn oil
- 1.1lb (500g) Beef
- 1.1lb (500g) Carrots
- (8.8oz) 250g Onions
- 2 ¾ cup (500g) Long-grain rice (rice to water ratio should be 1:1)
- 2 ¾ cup (500g) Water (rice to water ratio should be 1:1)
- ½ head Garlic
- 1 ½ tsp Cumin (whole)
- 1 Small bay leaf
- ⅛ tsp turmeric
- ⅛ tsp curry
- 1 tsp Salt, or to taste (water should be salty)
- Black pepper, to taste
- Peel and julienne the carrots.
- Slice onion thinly.
- Cut meat into thin strips or cubes.
- Wash rice and measure out water for cooking.
- Measure out spices.
- Preheat oven to 340° F (171° C). Skip if cooking on stove top.
- Heat the oil in a Kazan or heavy-bottom dutch oven. Add cut-up meat into the oil and sauté until meat is no longer red. Reduce heat to low and let cook, stirring periodically, until the water cooks out (about an hour).
- Add sliced onions to the meat and sauté until translucent.
- In the meantime, heat a separate skillet on medium-high heat and add a tablespoon oil. Sauté carrots until a bit softened but still hard.
- When onion is done cooking, add all the spices (cumin, garlic, black pepper, salt, bay leaf). Let cook for one minute.
- Add rice and water and bring to low boil.
- "Straighten" out rice and add carrots on the top spreading them out evenly. Cover with lid and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. If using stove top, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 40-45 minutes.
- Take out Plov from the oven once done. Let sit for 15 minutes before opening (optional).
- Mix the carrots into the rice and serve.
This recipe turned out so beautifully! The meat & rice were so succulent (but not mushy) and everything just combined to perfectly together. My husband & I could not stop eating it!
Hi Caddy! I am so happy to hear that! That’s also usually the case with me – I can’t stop eating this Plov, especially when it is freshly made! Thanks for your feedback. I appreciate it!