The lamb rice pilaf is one of the most popular dishes from the Uyghur cuisine. It is definitely a dish of minimalism: few ingredients, simple condiments, and everything cooked in one pot. The satisfying outcome can easily feed the whole family and fulfil the hungriest person!
HOW I MET THE UYGHUR STYLE LAMB RICE PILAF
I was introduced to this signature Uyghur dish by my grandma, who used to leave in Xinjiang for a few years. She learned this dish from the local people and brought back the recipe to our family. For this reason, I had the opportunity to taste this distinguishing dish and start eating lamb when I was very young.
AN EASY ONE-POT MEAL
My immediate memory connecting with this Uyghur rice pilaf was that every time we had it for dinner, the kitchen remained so clean. Unlike the usual days, when grandma would take out plates and bowls for the preparations, when she made this dish, it seemed she didn’t touch the kitchen.
That was because this was a one-pot meal: everything is cooked in one single wok!
If you are too tired to do a complicated dish, or just don’t want to wash dishes, but still would like to have a meal with a little bit of everything: protein, fibbers and carbohydrate. This riso pilaf is the perfect choice! Just cut the vegetables and the meat, then you are good to start cooking!
A wok or cocotte is the great tool to make this dish. Otherwise, the rice cooker is a popular choice among the modern options!
INGREDIENTS FOR THE LAMB RICE PILAF
It is recommended to use chunky meat in this recipe. So, the meat around the leg should be fine. Ribs are not the first option.
Carrots and onion are the essentials, and also the only vegetables, in this dish. The onion helps to reduce the unpleasant flavour of the lamb. Meanwhile the carrot adds some sweetness plus they can absorb the grease of the meat.
Lamb and cumin are best friends. I remember watching TV programs introducing the lamb skewers of the Uyghur cuisine, the cook would sprinkle generously the cumin on top of the juicy meat. Similarly for this dish. I personally adore cumin, so I tend to use a lot. But reduce the amount according to your own preference.
I add a little amount of soy sauce out of personal cooking habits. But it is totally optional.
Scallion, ginger slices and Sichuan peppers are helping in reducing the strong smell of the lamb during scalding. Highly recommend using them, but not a big deal if you skip them.
The dried grapes
The dried grape is a local specialty from the Xinjiang province. The Uyguri people usually lay some dried grapes on top of the rice pilaf before serving. I skipped this step because I don’t like sweets on my rice. But if you want to give the original recipe a try, feel free to put some dried grapes for garnishing at the end of the preparation.
LAMB RICE PILAF IN UYGHUR STYLE (新疆羊肉抓饭)Course: SECOND COURSECuisine: UiguraDifficulty: Low
The lamb rice pilaf is one of the most popular dishes from the Uyghur cuisine. It is definitely a dish of minimalism: few ingredients, simple condiments, and everything cooked in one pot.
Thai rice (or Basmati rice): 200g
Cumin powder: 2 tsp
Salt: 1.5-2 tsp
Soy sauce: 2 tbsp
Sunflower oil: 3-4 tbsp
- Herbs and spices for scalding the meat
Ginger: 4 slices
Sichuan pepper grains: a pinch
- Cut the lamb in chunk pieces. Soak them in water for 1-2 hours to get rid of the blood from the meat.
- Heat up a wok with lot of water inside. Add in the lamb meat and all the ingredients listed in the group "Herbs and spices for scalding the meat". When the water starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer the meat for 5-7 minutes. This is to get ride of the excess blood and fat from the meat.
- Drain out the water and get rid of the herbs and spices.
- Cut the onion and carrots in pieces.
- Heat up the same wok and add in some sunflower oil. Then add in the onion and stir-fry it for 1 minute.
- Add in the carrot and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute.
- Add in the lamb meat, soy sauce, cumin powder and salt. Mix them well.
- Add in water to cover up the meat and vegetables.
- Evenly lay the rice on top to cover up the meat and vegetables. You want to make sure the rice is just covered by the water (note).
- Cover the lid and lower the heat. Let it simmer for 20 minutes. When it has passed 15 minutes, flip the ingredients to make sure they are not burnt or there still remains too much water inside the wok.
- Serve when it is hot. I personally like to add some chili pepper to give some spicy flavor.
- The water level should be more or less the same with the rice. Try not to have the rice totally sinking under the water, otherwise you risk having a wok of porridge.
Imagine that you come home from a cold rainy day and there is a bowl of hot rice pilaf in front of you. The rice cooked together with the lamb has absorbed all the juice and flavor the meat. You take a spoonful of it, and you have the flavor of lamb and the sweetness of the vegetable all in your mouth. If you are a lamb lover, don’t miss this dish.
Even though you are not a fan of lamb, replace the meat with pork chops. You can still make a wonderful rice pilaf using the same recipe!