Buhara Pilavi (Pilaf with lamb, quince and nuts)

Buhara Pilavi (Pilaf with lamb, quince and nuts)

By 2 March, 2016

The recipe for this luscious dish is from a fabulous book on Gaziantep cookery called "A Taste of Sun & Fire" by Aylin Oney Tan.  I met Aylin in 2016 at a luxurious dinner at the Ciragan Palace in Istanbul at a dinner to celebrate UNESCO’s selection of Gaziantep as a Creative City for its gastronomy.
Aylin points out that this dish is named after the Central Asian city of Bukhara in Uzbekistan and is mostly reserved for festive meals. It is usually made with lamb shanks, but boneless cubed lamb can also be used. 



Pour nearly boiling water over the rice with a little salt and soak until the water becomes lukewarm.
To blanch the pistachio nuts and almonds add sufficient water to cover and bring to the boil. Allow to cool, drain and then peel off the skins.
Wash the quinces and apples, core and cut each into eight pieces and place in a bowl of water to prevent them discolouring. Peel the carrots and slice.
Sauté the pistachio nuts in the butter. Remove the pistachio nuts with a perforated spoon and then sauté the almonds, quinces, apples and carrots by turn, and place in separate bowls.
Finally brown the pieces of meat in the remaining butter and place in a saucepan. Add the tomato paste and 4 cups of boiling water, and simmer over a low heat until the meat is tender.
In a large round bottomed cooking pot first place the sautéed nuts. Then arrange the browned meat and slices of quince, apple and carrot on top of the nuts in a neat pattern.
Drain the rice and rinse thoroughly. Tip the rice over the other ingredients, being careful not to disturb the pattern. Measure the liquid remaining from the cooked meat, and make it up to 3 cups with water if necessary. Pour this over the rice. Add the salt and pepper. Cover and cook over a low heat for about 15-20 minutes until the rice has absorbed the liquid.
Remove the pot from the heat. Lay a clean cotton cloth or several layers of paper towel over the top, replace the lid and set aside to rest for 10-15 minutes.
To serve, place a large circular serving plate upside down over the pot. Holding
it firmly in place, turn pot and plate upside down, giving it a little shake. You will have a spectacular dish of rice decorated with pistachio nuts, almonds, meat, apples, quinces and carrots.
Tip: A little allspice and cinnamon are an excellent addition.


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