I’ve been trying to casually explore Uyghur culture after meeting some asylum seekers in NY back in 2009…looking into what I could find about their people
Music is always the first gateway and was easy enough to dig for but I wasn’t able to try the food from that region at all (or travel to Xinjiang)
Anyway, here’s an untested recipe I just found…
10 to 12 servings
Pilaf-type dishes are found in many cultures; this simple and hearty version with lamb is widely made in Xinjiang.
The rice is first rinsed and soaked, and then steams atop a bubbling mixture of meat and vegetables. It is also perfumed by cumin seed, which softens and mellows in the process. Cooked chickpeas or peeled apple is sometimes added to the mix.
Serve with a salad of thinly sliced cucumber, onion and tomatoes.
From Patiguli Baikeli and chef Sayit Akhral.
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large white onion, sliced
3 pounds boneless leg of lamb, cut into 4 or 5 large pieces (fat not trimmed)
2 1/2 pounds large carrots, cut crosswise on the diagonal, then into 1/2-inch matchsticks
4 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon salt
5 1/2 cups medium-grain white rice
1 tablespoon cumin seed
Pomegranate seeds, for garnish (arils; optional)
Heat the oil in a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring a few times, or until some of it begins to get crisped on the edges. Add the meat and sear on all sides, turning the pieces as needed; this will take 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the carrots and stir to coat, then pour in 2 cups of the boiling water and add the turmeric, using a spatula to dislodge any browned bits on the bottom. Give the mixture a good stir; once it’s boiling, add the salt. Make sure the meat is submerged; cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. The liquid in the pot should be at a steady, low boil.
Meanwhile, place the rice in a large mixing bowl. Cover with cool water and rinse, drain and repeat two more times. Fill with water again, covering the rice by 1/2 inch or so. Let sit for 20 minutes.
Add the remaining 2 cups of boiling water to the pot.
Spread large spoonfuls of the rice carefully over the surface of the what’s in the pot, spreading it evenly for complete coverage; you don’t want the rice to mix into the bubbling liquid at all. (The rice is going to steam atop the meat and vegetables below.) Cook for 5 minutes, then scatter the cumin seed evenly over the rice. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cover tightly and cook, undisturbed, for 30 minutes until the rice is tender.
Uncover; gently stir enough to find all the pieces of meat and transfer them to a cutting board. Stir to incorporate the rice and vegetables; turn off the heat. The grains of rice should not be sticking together.
Cut the meat into 3/4-inch pieces, discarding any fat that hasn’t rendered, if desired.
To serve, divide the meat atop generous portions of the polow. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, if using.
for a bit more context