Noodle pilaf recipe (Arishta plov)

Noodle pilafAzerbaijani cuisine has a rich variety of pilaf dishes and sauces to go with them.

Noodle pilaf is a particularly filling pilaf and can be served on its own or with chicken. As with all Azerbaijani pilafs, noodle pilaf should not be sticky! It follows the basic cooking method for rice – to parboil it and then steam it. Qazmaq, a crust made at the bottom of the pan when the rice is steamed, is highly prized and is served in pieces with the rice or on a separate plate.

Preparation time: 30 min
Cooking time: 45 min
Serves: 5-6

Ingredients

500 g/1 kg 1 oz of basmati rice
150 g/6 oz short noodles
200 g/8 oz butter
salt & pepper
For the qazmaq-crust
1 egg and 1-2 tbspns yoghurt
OR 100 g/4 oz plain flour

Preparation

Fry the noodles in a pan without oil until golden (about 5 to 10 minutes).
Fill a large, heavy saucepan with water and add salt. Bring to the boil. Add the rice to the boiling water. Turn the heat down slightly but cook at a rapid boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to cook for too long or the finished rice will be sticky. To see if the rice is ready, take a couple of grains out of the pot and test them on your wet finger. The grain should be soft on the outside but still firm on the inside. When you bite into the grain or break it with a finger nail, the hard white interior should still be visible. Before you strain the rice, add the noodles and leave to simmer in the water for 2 to 3 minutes.
Strain the rice and noodles through a rice colander.
Prepare the crust or qazmaq: 2 varieties are given here. a) Mix together 1 egg, 4 tablespoons of the parboiled rice and 1-2 tablespoons of yogurt. Add some of the infused saffron water or a pinch of turmeric. OR b) For lavash qazmaq, make lavash by mixing together 1 glass (200 g/8 oz) of flour and a little water and butter. (Add 1 egg to the dough if you want an eggy flavour to the qazmaq.) Knead the dough until it is soft and roll out to a thickness of 3mm/0.2 inches.
Rinse and dry the rice pan. Return it to the heat and melt a generous knob of butter. Spread the qazmaq mixture or lavash over the bottom of the pan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the parboiled rice and noodles to the pan. Put several knobs of butter on top. Make holes in the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow the steam to escape. Place a well-fitting lid on top of the saucepan, covered underneath with a clean tea towel. The towel helps to absorb the steam. Once the rice is steaming, turn down the heat and leave to continue steaming for 30 to 45 minutes. The rice can be left to steam for longer without coming to any harm.
Serve on a large dish with the qazmaq in pieces on top of the rice or separately.

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