When in doubt, add more garlic!

Plov is a popular Russian rice dish that came to Russia via central Asia. Everyone makes it differently. For example, some time after we came to SoCal, my mom had an idea to use cayenne instead of black pepper, which I’m pretty sure is a non-standard, but, in my opinion, awesome change.

Before we start, I have a few quick ingredient explanations and advice on substitutions. Firstly, if you don’t like chicken organ meat, the best alternative would be lamb. Secondly, barberries are a small, sweet and tart red berry, but they are kind of hard to find in the US. If you can’t find them, I think a good substitute would be pomegranate seeds or cranberries (but in a smaller quantity). Finally, although I like to cook for family, I don’t consider myself a chef, so please don’t take the numbers below too seriously– do experiment with the amount of spices to your taste (I usually put even more garlic and cayenne). Enjoy!


  • 2/3 lbs (300 grams) chicken hearts and/or gizzards (or other meat)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups (200 grams) white rice
  • 6-8 cups (1.5-1.8 liters) water (approximately)
  • 1/2 tablespoon (7 grams) whole coriander (or ground)
  • 1/2 tablespoon (7 grams) whole cumin (or ground)
  • 1/2 tablespoon (7 grams) red pepper flakes (or ground cayenne)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) dried barberries (or other fruit)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 head of garlic, peeled (yes, half an entire head, at least)
  • vegetable oil for frying
Dried barberries. Yum!

Wash the gizzards thoroughly, and clean off any fatty/tough bits off of the hearts. (They don’t always do a good job of it at the store.) In a pot, brown the meat with a little bit of oil. Cover with 6 cups of water, add the bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Then turn to medium, and cook until tender (around 30 minutes if using chicken hearts/gizzards).

In the meantime, dice the onion and shred the carrot (e.g. on a cheese grater). Heat up some vegetable oil in a pan. If using whole coriander/cumin, roast them in the pan for a few seconds before adding the onion. Cook the onion until soft (around a minute) before adding the carrots. Cook for another two minutes.

Once the meat is tender, put two cups of white rice directly into the water. Add more water if too much has boiled out; it should be approximately 2:1 ratio of water to rice. Add the onion/carrot mixture to the water. Add the red pepper flakes/cayenne to the water. If using ground coriander and cumin rather than whole, add that to the water now now too. Mix it all together, and cook on medium until the rice is almost ready (around 18 minutes).

In the last few minutes, stick the whole cloves of garlic deep into the rice at regular intervals. Make sure they are well covered by the hot rice. Let stand until the garlic is soft (around 3 minutes). Then mix in the barberries (or other fruit), making sure they are evenly distributed as well. Serve hot.

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